Modeling and Experimental Aspects of Self-healing Bolted Joint through Shape Memory Alloy Actuators
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Bolted joints are a form of mechanical coupling largely used in machinery due to their reliability and low cost. Failure of bolted joints can lead to catastrophic events, such as leaking, train derailments, aircraft crashes, etc. Most of these failures occur due to the reduction of the pre-load, induced by mechanical vibration or human errors in the assembly or maintenance process. This article investigates the application of shape memory alloy (SMA) washers as an actuator to increase the pre-load on loosened bolted joints. The application of SMA washer follows a structural health monitoring procedure to identify a damage (reduction in pre-load) occurrence. In this article, a thermo-mechanical model is presented to predict the final pre-load achieved using this kind of actuator, based on the heat input and SMA washer dimension. This model extends and improves on the previous model of Ghorashi and Inman [2004, "Shape Memory Alloy in Tension and Compression and its Application as Clamping Force Actuator in a Bolted Joint: Part 2 - Modeling," J. Intell. Mater. Syst. Struct., 15:589-600], by eliminating the pre-load term related to nut turning making the system more practical. This complete model is a powerful but complex tool to be used by designers. A novel modeling approach for self-healing bolted joints based on curve fitting of experimental data is presented. The article concludes with an experimental application that leads to a change in joint assembly to increase the system reliability, by removing the ceramic washer component. Further research topics are also suggested.