Recent studies on the use of graphite fiber-organic matrix composites in Naval and commercial high performance ships have demonstrated the potential for significant weight savings and corresponding improvements in ship performance. Unlike conventional materials, structural elements fabricated with advanced composite materials require specialized attention. One area that is critical to the successful development of reliable composite structural elements is joining. This paper describes a method for determining the structural integrity of an adhesively bonded composite/steel scarf joint. An experimentally established failure criterion is presented based on a strain energy release rate formulation, which may be used to predict performance of the scarf joint under tensile loading.

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