Date: Wednesday, 17 April 2024
Time: 12pm
Contact: Noel O'Dowd -


Wednesday, 17 April 2024 at 12h00
Venue MSG-024/025, Bernal Institute.


Joining is a critical element of engineering design, as it provides the ability to achieve structural size and shape complexity that is beyond the capabilities of primary manufacturing processes; allows for optimal material selection and usage; provides impact and damage tolerance beyond that inherent in the materials of construction; and facilitates disassembly for repair, reuse, recycling, upcycling and other end-of-life use-cases. However, joining also represents one of the greatest design challenges as joint properties dictate strength, stiffness and efficiency of the surrounding structures. Traditional joining methods include mechanical fastening, chemical bonding, and thermal welding. While these methods are well established, and will remain in place for decades, they do suffer drawbacks such as inefficient bolted connections, unpredictable joint strengths caused by variability in surface preparation techniques and difficult disassembly protocols in adhesive joints, and difficulty in joining dissimilar materials and low joint stiffness in welded joints. To overcome this, novel hybrid joining technologies have begun to emerge that utilise the best salient features from the aforementioned joining technologies. This presentation will outline such novel hybrid joining technologies from the basic principles of traditional joining methods for composites, up to a new FALCOM joining technology that connects composites to metals in a highly efficient and reversible way using novel interlock technology and re-workable adhesives.


Professor Conor McCarthy is Chair of Lightweight Structures at the University of Limerick where he leads a research group focussed on developing digital twins for advanced joining processes, such as autonomous robotic drilling and ultrasonic welding of high-performance composite materials and structures. A key driver of this research is to optimise advanced lightweight structures by developing and deploying novel multi-material joining technologies. Some examples of this research work include the development of joints for advanced composite fuselage and wing skin-stinger and -frame bolted joints, and novel interlocked hybrid composite–metal joints. This research work has led to over 120+ Scopus-Indexed high impact publications (>5,100+ citations, H-index: 40+) and a US patent on a new smart glue that can be “unzipped” using only high-frequency radio waves for applications in product disassembly and circularity. Professor McCarthy has mentored 12 PhD students and 25 postdoctoral researchers, including 16 Maria Skłodowska-Curie fellows. He has also been the principal investigator on competitively won research projects and infrastructure with a value of over €10M and was the founding director of the Confirm - Smart Manufacturing Research Centre with a total research funding of >€60M. He serves on the Board of a leading composites Journal Composite Structures.

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