Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Faysal Kolkailah


In the last few decades, there has been a shift to using more lightweight materials for the potential of fuel consumption reduction. In the Aerospace Industry, conventional metal structures are being replaced by advanced composite structures. The major advantage of an advanced composite structure is the huge reduction in the number of parts and joints required. Also composite materials provide better resistance to creep, corrosion, and fatigue. However, one cannot eliminate all the joints and attachments in an aircraft’s structure. Eliminating structural joints is impractical in present-day aircraft because of the requirements for inspection, manufacturing breaks, assembly and equipment access, and replacement of damaged structures. Currently, composite joints are overdesigned which leads to weight penalties. Understanding how to optimize the ultimate bearing strength of a composite joint by altering the cure cycle might be beneficial to the composite joint design process.

This study investigates, through numerical and experimental analysis, the mechanical behavior of double shear joints. The first task is to test Aluminum double shear joint specimens inside the double shear joint fixture at a loading rate of 0.05 in./min. (quasi-static). The second task is to numerically model and validate the aluminum double shear joint specimen. The third task is to test the Unidirectional MTM 49 carbon fiber pre-preg double shear composite joint specimens with two different cure cycles and five different loading rates (0.05 in./min., 0.1 in./min., 1 in./min., 2 in./min. and 6 in./min.). The double shear composite joint specimens are made, using a heat press, with a quasi-isotropic laminate orientation of [0 0 +45 -45 +45 -45 90 90]s. The first cure cycle used is called the alternate cure cycle, which is Cytec’s MTM 49 Unidirectional Carbon Fiber pre-preg material cure cycle, and the second cure cycle used is called the datasheet cure cycle, which is Umeco's MTM 49 Unidirectional Carbon Fiber pre-preg material cure cycle. The recommended datasheet cure cycle and an alternate cure cycle are both compared to see how they affect the mechanical characteristics of the matrix along with the bearing stress. The fourth task is to adjust the Aluminum double shear joint numerical model for the double shear composite joint specimen. The numerical results for both the Aluminum and the composite specimens are in agreement with the experimental results. The theoretical in-plane material properties of the quasi-isotropic laminate were in agreement with the experimental results. One can see that at 0.05 in./min. and 0.1 in./min. (for both cure cycles) the composite double shear specimens carried more load compared to the higher loading rates of 1 in./min., 2 in./min. and 6 in./min. The tensile modulus of elasticity of an Aluminum sample is measured using a crosshead displacement, a strain gage and an extensometer. The crosshead displacement yielded very inaccurate results when compared to the strain gage and the extensometer.