A mechanical interlocking joint between sheet metal and carbon fibre reinforced polymers through punching

The joint between different lightweight materials plays a significant role in multimaterial design of structural components for the automotive industry, aiming to reduce the vehicle's weight without compromising performance or safety. Yet, conventional mechanical joining technologies between metals and Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymers (CFRP) result in either a hole being drilled in the composite material, leading to damages which reduce the load bearing capacity, or the weight of the part being increased due to the incorporation of fasteners. At the same time, alternative mechanical joining methodologies involve complex and costly processing, hindering their industrial application. This work presents a new, simple, costefficient and non-weight penalizing mechanical joining technology between a metal sheet and fibre reinforced polymer prepregs consisting of a single-step punching process. In this process, the metallic sheet is completely perforated, while the prepreg is not. The punch pushes the carbon fibres through the metallic hole, with no, or minimal fibre breakage, generating a mechanical interlock. The shear strength and the absorbed energy of the co-cured joint increase with the incorporation of the mechanical interlocking joint ​
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