Wind turbine blade spar cap to shear web adhesively bonded connections can suffer from damage at the bond-line which can propagate through the structure compromising blade integrity. This study investigates changes in the stiffness and damping of a thick adhesive joint test specimen during a fatigue test. The stiffness is calculated using an extensometer and damping is determined using vibration and thermography. Fatigue tests showed three distinct phases of damage. Firstly, transverse cracks and delamination initiate and grow with little change in stiffness observed while damping increases by 18.6% and 17.8% inferred from the vibration and thermographic methods, respectively. In the second phase, the number of transverse cracks increases reaching saturation and the stiffness reduces by 4.7%. The increase in the loss factor is 65.7% and 95.6% from the vibration and thermographic methods, respectively. In the final phase, the crack density remains constant whilst de-bonding of the joint begins and grows until failure. The loss factor increases by 111.4% and 116.9% from the vibration and thermographic methods, respectively though the stiffness shows a cumulative reduction of only 8.6%. The results show the potential for monitoring changes in damping to infer incipient damage in an adhesively bonded composite joint structure.
- Adhesive joint
- Loss factor