Past Projects: Sheet Metal Adhesives Project

The Problem:

The main driving force for the project was reduction of production and transportation costs for sheet metal cabinets. The original designs were fabricated using welding as primary technique. Rework and shipping space were the major disadvantages. The existing data on joint strength for adhesives, provided by the manufacturers, was unreliable and inconsistent.


The defense department needed a better, more economical and more reliable method of joining sheet metal panels in power units.

What We Did:

User-friendly guidelines were developed for engineers to design sheet metal structures using adhesives. Different parameters of the joint where evaluated, namely: bond-line thickness, aspect ratio, surface preparation, thermal cycle, and shear strength using three different adhesives. Using adhesives, a full-scale cabinet, already being produced commercially with welding, was assembled, and time/cost studies were conducted. Full-scale testing on the cabinet showed that the joints where at least equivalent. Our adhesively bonded prototype cabinets performed adequately in static testing, but were clearly superior when compared to similar welded cabinets in seismic testing. Guidelines were developed to help enable engineers to design adhesively bonded joints to meet design requirements the first time around.



THECB (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board): $175,000 / 2 years

Lucent + 3M: in-kind contributors



Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Lucent Technologies
3M Corp


Adhesives Guidelines: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4
Sheet Metal Guidelines: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3