Joining Technology Research Centre (JTRC)

About us

The Joining Technology Research Centre at Oxford Brookes is recognised as one of the leading establishments providing industry with access to a unique combination of engineering and scientific skills in the UK today. The foundations of JTRC go back to 1968 and the Centre has since established an international reputation for its interdisciplinary approach to joining problems.

In particular, the research team has undertaken a considerable amount of research and development, and has participated in a wide range of knowledge transfer activities in the use of adhesives and sealants for the aerospace, automotive and construction sectors.

JTRC undertakes consultancy and short- and long-term research contracts in most areas of adhesion, adhesive bonding and sealant technology, and failure analysis. Contact us for a preliminary discussion of your requirements.

Leadership

James G Broughton

Professor James Broughton

Professor in Engineering

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Research outcomes and impact

Adhesive bonding is an enabling technology that plays a critical role in light-weighting through the efficient and often only means of joining multi-material components. JTRC has provided novel joining solutions to industry-wide applicable problems that have had a significant impact on national and international sustainability and environmental targets. The outcomes of this impact, listed below, have been influential in the areas of mass production light-weight electric motors, recycling of composites, repair, upgrade and life extension of infrastructure. 

Electric motors

Game-changing, ground-breaking, best-in-class: the electric motors from Oxfordshire company YASA Motors make news not just in motorsport now, but across sectors ranging from industrial to marine and aerospace.

The remarkable designs were produced with expertise from JTRC and radically shortened production times, increased performance, cut costs, and improved reliability, preparing the company for mass production.

By the end of the two-year project, motor production was reduced from seven days to two, material use was reduced, and defect rates were down ten-fold. The cost of a key component was reduced from £95 to under £10, thanks to the introduction of polymers. Lead times that used to stand at eight weeks were heading down to two.

Commercially, the company won a large contract with a major vehicle manufacturer, and made significant inroads into industrial markets. The motors were also adopted for 'the most technologically advanced road-car ever conceived', the Jaguar C-X75, in which two YASA motors paired with a modest conventional engine to create a car with the performance of a Bugatti Veyron and yet emissions of a Toyota Prius.

Disbondable adhesives

The Disbondable Joints Project is part of the NCC's Technology Pull-through (TPT) Programme and is in collaboration with JTRC. The project aimed to validate and increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of JTRC's academic work on adhesive bonding. Replacing mechanical fixtures with bonded joints can reduce assembly time and decrease structural weight, however modifications and disassembly of these components are complex due to the irreversible nature and high strength of the structural adhesives used. The ability to facilitate disbonding with localised and controlled trigger systems could enable innovation in rework, repositioning as well as increase the ease of disassembly of multi-material structures.

The benefits of successful deployment of this technology into industry include potential innovation in rework for repair, repositioning, modifications, as well as the ability to disassemble structures and multi-materials at end of life.

Disbonded adhesive
Disbonding of adhesive from substrate

Bonded composite repair

As a consequence of asset ageing, the extent and use of engineered composite repairs has increased dramatically over recent years. It is now not uncommon to see examples on a range of both onshore and offshore structures, components and equipment. Such repairs present an attractive proposition both technically and financially. However, whilst in general the performance of such repairs has proven to be satisfactory, there continues to be uncertainty relating to their long-term integrity and performance. Whilst at the present time the majority of repairs are applied to non-safety related equipment, engineered composite repairs are increasingly applied to more onerous applications, some of which are considered to be safety critical.

JTRC were commissioned by the Health & Safety Executive to run durability trials to evaluate surface preparation techniques for bonded composite patch repair, according to current Industry Standard Practice. JTRC successfully delivered recommendations and guidance on minimum surface preparation and forms part of the recently updated H&S executive guidance for repair. 

HSE logo

Novel test methods for adhesives

A test methodology for screening 3M adhesives subjected to their work environment has been developed using a standard  analysis equipment. This includes:

  • assessment of substrate properties by testing bulk specimens
  • assessment of adhesion at the adhesive-substrate interface of bonded joints (i.e. surface preparation, joint geometry, bondline characteristics)
  • bonded joint performance subject to realistic service conditions
  • an ability to alter the bondline stress state using the same joint geometry, e.g. shear or cleavage (mixed-mode).

The proposed outcome is a simplification of 3M customer decision process on selecting adhesives and/or comparison against competitor products.

graph showing test results
Schematic of fatigue test results

CompClass

The growth in the use of composite materials systems for different applications involving concrete, metallic and timber structures has highlighted the need for more guidance on the design, application and approval processes. JTRC has developed procedures for the assessment of materials systems on site, involving the development of manufacturing techniques for on-site fabrication of reliable and consistent test pieces.

The major outputs from this project included classification and qualification schemes, together with guidance on their implementation, test protocols (laboratory and site-based), QC test acceptance criteria and practical application guidance. 

CompClass logo

Research areas

The Centre is involved in a wide range of industrial research that matches the diverse application of adhesive bonding through all engineering sectors. Of particular note are projects relating to aerospace, automotive, materials and construction.  A list of the programmes of research undertaken are listed below:

Disbonding additives
Disbonding additives

Research experience and knowledge transfer activities

The Centre has been engaged in many successful knowledge transfer activities. These have included:
  • the development of bespoke Industrial training courses (see testimonials below) on adhesive technology and composite materials testing
  • compiling governmental reports (e.g. Health & Safety Executive) and design guidance for specialist areas (e.g. TR57, complcass.org.uk) like bonded composite repair
  • award winning KTP projects.


Two Brookes KTP associates with YASA electric Motor

Yasa Motors and JTRC award winning KTP Winner for Engineering Excellence Award, KTP Best of the Best Awards Finalist and Best Partnership Award.

Testimonials

Bostick Smart Adhesives

“We worked with the Joining Technology Research Centre to develop a bespoke training course for new starters into our Research and Development function. They quickly grasped what we were trying to achieve and set up a training course that had a great balance of theory and real life examples which were relevant to our staff. The practical embedment exercises really helped to make sense of the theory and injected an element of fun into the training. The course participants rated the training highly for their level of engagement and the clear way in which the information and ideas were expressed.”

Katherine Higgins, Research & Development Director, Corporate Research & Development

EXOVA

“We worked with the Sustainable Engineering and Innovation group at Oxford Brookes University to create a bespoke course to train colleagues in advanced composite materials. We selected Oxford Brookes based on their expertise and research track record in the field. During the development of the course our feedback was incorporated into the training materials to ensure the final output met our needs, with a blend of theory and practical examples. The team at Oxford Brookes delivered an engaging and relevant training experience that was beneficial to those who participated.”

Dr Natalia Becerra, Technical Director Polymers & Composites