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Journal Article

The Effect of Machining–Induced Micro Texture on Lightning Current Arcing between Fasteners and Composite Structure

Drilling fastener holes in composite is much more difficult than in aluminum or other metallic materials since individual carbon fibers fracture at irregular angles resulting in numerous microscopic voids. These voids can trap excess sealant inhibiting the intimate electrical contact between the fastener and the composite structure. As the cutting tool wears there is an increase of surface chipping and an increase in the amount of uncut fibers or resin. This condition is referred to as machining–induced micro texture. Machining–induced micro texture has been shown to be associated with the presence of arcing between the fastener and the composite structure during lightning strike tests. Lightning protection of composite structure is more complex due to the intrinsic high resistance of carbon fibers and epoxy, the multi-layer construction and the anisotropic nature of the structure.