Robust Repair Methods of Primary Structures in Composite

A request of material change when performing repairs on composite parts of SAABs JAS 39 Gripen has lead to the initiation of this project. The aim is to create a quicker and more robust repair method. The requested method of repair is to use a direct-cured repair patch made of CFRP fabric instead of CFRP tape and to mount the patch with a scarf joint, see Figure 1.1.

The fabric patch should then provide a robust quasi-isotropic repair, where the operator not is dependent of complete design data such as ply-directions etc. Today tape repairs are made on tape laminate and fabric repairs made on fabric laminate. The new method is to repair tape laminate with a fabric patch. This project will evaluate the possibility of implementing this method.

The work started with a literature study to find out how repairs in composite parts of the airframe are being performed today. SAABs in-house analytical tools were then used to try to predict the results and examine some of the details in the questions at issue.

Finite element models were then constructed to simulate a previous physical test program conducted to validate a repair method using a step joint and a direct-cured repair patch. If the FE models could show similar results as the physical tests the results from the FE models then can be assumed to be credible.

The results of this project indicate that the change from fabric to tape in the repair patch can be done without disturbing the load path of a quasi isotropic composite laminate. Fabric repairs in orthotropic composite plates results in a knock-down of about 40%.

The use of a scarf joint instead of a step joint should also work well as the repair patches show similar strains in the centre of the patches. The difference between step joint and scarf joint is the strain near the edge of the patch. It increases with scarf joint and it may lead to an earlier fibre failure in the repair patch.

Results from the analysis of the bonded joint indicate that a scarf joint yields in a lower and more evenly distributed shear stress than the step joint. This indicates that the bonded joint in the step joint will reach failure earlier then the scarf joint.
Source: Linköping University
Author: Ramström, Marcus | Gungner, Mattias

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