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The University of Southampton

Research project: Load-bearing glass–adhesive joints

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Although glass offers great potential to be used in buildings, one of the main challenges that inhibit the use of glass structures is the lack of an efficient connection method. Point fixing methods such as bolted and clamped joints have been used in the industry, but these joints obviously lack structural efficiency due to the surface flaws caused by the drilling of the holes and the high stress concentrations at joints. The brittle nature of the material makes glass vulnerable to failure due to concentration of stresses. On the other hand adhesive bonded joints are structurally superior to bolted/clamped joints for applications ranging from glass-glass and glass-metallic joints.

Fig 1
Fig 2

Fig. 1 Although clamps and bolts are widely used in glass joints, the joints are often structurally inefficient

Fig. 2 Adhesive bonded joints are structurally superior to bolted/clamped joints for glass-glass and glass-metallic joints


Advantages of glass–adhesive joints


  1. Provision of large bond area
  2. No surface flaws due to hole drilling
  3. Light weight compared to bolted/clamped joints
  4. Sealing
  5. No corrosion
  6. Bonding is possible on complex geometries
  7. Improved structural stiffness
  8. etc.


Glass–adhesive joints: Challenges

Despite the potential of adhesive joints, the use of stiff adhesives is relatively unproven technology for joints in glass. Adhesive joints are subjected to complex 3D stress and strain states that may in some cases lead to premature failures. We aim to develop an experimentally validated combined analytical and numerical methodology to analyse both the load response and the initiation and progressive catastrophic failure of glass-adhesive joint configurations representative of practical industrial applications. We also conduct carefully designed parametric studies in order to establish optimal glass-adhesive joint configurations.

Fig 3

Fig. 3 Finite element modelling approaches will be used to incorporate non-linear material and geometric behaviours of the glass–adhesive joints

Fig 4 (a)
Fig 4 (b)

Benefits to structural engineering

Adhesive joints in glass offer significant constructional and economic advantages compared to conventional point fixing jointing methods. The glass-adhesive joints can lead to significant improvements in strength and dimensional tolerances in structures, thereby will provide unprecedented opportunity for optimising current design guidelines of glass facades and structures. The output of the project would keep UK structural engineering at the forefront of global low-carbon construction market.


Research collaborator

Dr Stefanie Feih, Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology


Funding sources

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore.


Further information

Please contact Dr Mithila Achintha (E-mail: or 02380 59 2924)

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