The paper summarizes results of an engineering investigation on advanced joining technology for hybrid (composite-metal) structures. Polymer Matrix Composites (PMC) used in structural applications are known to reduce structure weight, lower life-cycle cost and, in case of a floating platform, improve the deadweight/displacement ratio. While beneficial, PMC applications for large hull structures have certain limitations in size and volume of seamless structural component without using joints. A hybrid hull that consists of both metal and composite structural members potentially enables desirable enhancements of structural efficiency, but robust joining between those heterogeneous structures must be employed. A recently completed feasibility study has been performed involving a novel hybrid joining concept-technology based on a combination of conventional adhesive bonding with novel metal surface preparation. Computer simulation of the joint structural behavior and failure, development of a material processing procedure based on adaptation of Vacuum-Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) process to manufacturing of a large hybrid structure, fabrication of pilot joint test articles, and tensile testing of those to failure, have been performed as part of the feasibility study. Two sets of the hybrid joint were tested, the novel joint being developed and its conventionally bonded analogue without the novel surface preparation considered as a base-line joint. The tests resulted with 48%-increase of load-bearing capability of the novel joint and a good match between generated computed and experimental data.

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