Experimental and finite element techniques are used for investigating the effect of cyclic thermal loading on the clamp load decay in preloaded single-lap bolted joints that are made of multimaterial lightweight alloys. Substrate material combinations include aluminum, magnesium, and steel, with various coupon thicknesses. The range of cyclic temperature profile varies between −20 °C and +150 °C in a computer-controlled environmental chamber for generating the desired cyclic temperature profile and durations. Real time clamp load data are recorded using strain gage-based, high-temperature, load cells. Clamp load decay is investigated for various combinations of joint materials, initial preload level, and substrate thickness. Thermal and material creep finite element analysis (FEA) is performed using temperature-dependent mechanical properties. The FEA model and results provided a valuable insight into the experimental results regarding the vulnerability of some lightweight materials to significant material creep at higher temperatures.

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