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The Art and Science of Bonding Composite Structures – Rowville, Victoria

Start Date 17 August 2015 Add to my calendar
End Date 17 August 2015
Time 9.00am - 5.00pm
Location Waverley Golf Club - Rowville
Members $370 each
Non members $480 each
Students $225 each

This full-day course with composites engineering consultant Dr Rik Heslehurst will provide extensive discussion and demonstrations of surface preparation of composite materials, the science of adhesively bonded joint design and the issues that ultimately determine the successful outcome of the joint design and fabrication.


When joining composite structures we have two principle choices: either bolt or bond the structure. Welding of composite structures can also be done, but is typically a more specialised form of joining composite materials and is essentially the same thing as adhesive bonding. The decision to bolt or bond the structure requires careful and focused attention.  Several factors drive the decision, including structural thickness; materials being used (glass, aramid, carbon, etc.); fibre orientation and stiffness; environmental factors and loads.

Bonding of composite structures is not a trivial matter.  While the typical joint efficiencies of bonded composite structures should be greater than 100%, there are several matters that must be considered, and indeed well understood, to realise the high joint efficiencies achievable. The design of the adhesively bonded joint uses the orthotropic solid engineering properties to determine joint adhesive strength and overlap length — this is the science of adhesive joint design. The art is related to more local effects pertaining to the ply layup configuration; the edge effects (peel); the taper arrangement; etc. These detailed design aspects will either enhance the global joint design or significantly reduce the joint efficiency.

As significant as surface preparation in joint design is, the process and intent is often inadequately understood and applied. The science and, more importantly, the art of surface preparation and preservation of composite materials will be reviewed in some detail.

Participants will receive a course workbook.


On completion of the course, attendees will:

  • Understand the many issues to be considered when bonding composite structures and components
  • Be aware of what needs to be done to achieve practical and enduring adhesively-bonded joints for composites.
  • See first-hand the practices required for success.


  •  Introduction and overview
  • Adhesive types and properties
  • Bondline and failure mechanisms
  • The selection process
  • Surface preparation and conditioning (practical demonstration)
  • Surface analysis
  • Adhesive preparation, curing and detail aspects of fabrication (practical demonstration),
  • Testing and results interpretation (practical demonstration),

 About the presenter:

Dr Rik Heslehurst presents courses and seminars around the world on the subject of composites and joint technologies.

He has worked in the composites and adhesive bonding industry for more than 30 years, starting his career as an aeronautical engineering officer in the RAAF with postings as an F/A-18 airworthiness engineer, and Officer In-Charge of the RAAF Materials and Process Engineering. More recently Rik retired as an academic with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) at the Australian Defence Force Academy where he lectured and conducted research in aircraft and airframe design and composite and bonded structures design and analysis. Rik now runs his own consulting business, is senior engineer for two US companies and provides engineering and technical support to Composites Australia. His clients include Raytheon, NASA, USAF, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Bombardier and Walt Disney Imagineering and Composites Australia. Rik obtained his Bachelor and Master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from RMIT University and his PhD from UNSW.

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