Home Research & Education 3D-printed metal pins increase the load-bearing capacity of hybrid metal-composite structural joints

3D-printed metal pins increase the load-bearing capacity of hybrid metal-composite structural joints

A study at RMIT University in Melbourne investigated how 3D-printed metal pins can be used to reinforce transitions between metal and composite materials. Titanium plates with 1 mm diameter titanium pins printed on them were used. This rough surface was embedded in carbon fiber composites.

The samples were tested both with and without an additional adhesive layer. The pins were found to increase the fracture toughness of the transitions enormously – by 19 times in one loading mode and 11 times in another. They can transfer the loads very effectively and counteract crack propagation.

So far, this effect has only been studied for one type of loading. The current study now provides a more comprehensive insight, as the behavior under shear loading was also analyzed. It became clear that in certain loading cases it is even possible to dispense with the adhesive altogether.

The researchers see great potential for optimizing composite joints with customized pin structures from the 3D printer. However, further work is still needed to improve the cost-effectiveness and process reliability for practical use. Such innovations would be conceivable in lightweight construction for aerospace applications, for example.

The method presented makes it possible to coordinate materials and manufacturing processes in a targeted manner. In this way, completely new types of joining solutions could be realized in the future.

The scientific paper “Superior interfacial toughening of hybrid metal-composite structural joints using 3D printed pins” was published in “Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing”. Authors of the paper are: Tiana Bagnato, Anil R. Ravindran, Azadeh Mirabedini, Raj_B. Ladani, Everson Kandare, Adrian C. Orifici, Paul Chang, John Wang, Adrian P. Mouritz.

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