Journal of Adhesion Science and Technology, Vol.17, No.3, 329-352, 2003
Investigation of optimal surface treatments for carbon/epoxy composite adhesive joints
Although an adhesive joint can distribute the load over a larger area than a mechanical joint, requires no holes, adds very little weight to the structure and has superior fatigue resistance, but it not only requires a careful surface preparation of the adherends but also is affected by service environments. In this paper, suitable conditions for surface treatments such as plasma surface treatment, mechanical abrasion, and sandblast treatment were investigated to enhance the mechanical load capabilities of carbon/epoxy composite adhesive joints. A capacitively coupled radiofrequency plasma system was used for the plasma surface treatment of carbon/epoxy composites and suitable surface treatment conditions were experimentally investigated with respect to gas flow rate, chamber pressure, power intensity, and surface treatment time by measuring the surface free energies of treated specimens. The optimal mechanical abrasion conditions with sandpapers were investigated with respect to the mesh number of sandpaper, and optimal sandblast conditions were investigated with respect to sandblast pressure and particle size by observing geometric shape changes of adherends during sandblast process. Also the failure modes of composite adhesive joints were investigated with respect to surface treatment. From the peel tests on plasma treated composite adhesive joints, it was found that all composite adhesive joints failed cohesively in the adhesive layer when the surface free energy was higher than about 40 mJ/m(2), because of high adhesion strength between the plasma treated surface and the adhesive. From the peel tests on mechanically abraded composite adhesive joints, it was also found that the optimal surface roughness and adhesive thickness increased as the failure load increased.