How can composites be joined to other materials?
Joints are a potential source of weakness for any structure, and can also add additional weight therefore the ideal structure should be designed with as few joints as possible. This is not always achievable in practice, however, as there is generally an upper limit to the component’s size due to processability and/or to facilitate the transportation and assembling on-site.
Custom-engineered functionally-specific properties enabling greatly enhanced design versatility are drawing designers to fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites for a variety of applications. However, these will only become materials-of-preference if better ways can be found for producing more efficient joints. Methods of mechanical fastening and adhesive or thermal bonding (welding) have been developed but are often extensions of methods used for joining conventional metallic or polymeric structures. To enable effective joint design, this must be integrated at the material and structure synthesis stage.