Adhesive joints are becoming increasingly popular in various industrial sectors. However, in spite of numerous recent studies in literature, the design phase of the adhesive joint is still challenging. The main issue in the design phase is the determination of the stress distribution in the adhesive layer under external mechanical loads. In the present study, a classical adhesive joint is analysed in comparison to its modified geometric configuration (i.e. tapered) aimed at reducing the magnitude of stress peaks. In particular, a single-lap joint with steel adherends bonded with a commercial epoxy adhesive is analysed. A 3D FE analysis is conducted to determine the distribution of normal and shear stresses in the mid-plane of the adhesive layer. The results obtained from the present study show that the inclusion of a small taper angle (i.e. 5°) leads to a remarkable reduction of normal stresses (up to 30%) compared to the classical configuration. It is observed that the further increase of the taper angle (up to 15°) does not lead to significant reductions of the stress peaks. The trend in shear stresses, on the other hand, is in contrast: an increase in the taper angle leads to an increase in the shear peaks. The method of tapering the adherends is effective in reducing the normal stresses, which are responsible for triggering the failure in the adhesive joint.
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