AbstractThis work aims at investigating the influence of pre-set clamping pressure on the joint formation and mechanical strength of overlapping direct-friction-riveted joints. A pneumatic fixture device was developed for this work, with clamping pressure varying from 0.2 MPa to 0.6 MPa. A case study on overlapping joints using Ti6Al4V rivets and woven carbon fiber-reinforced polyether-ether-ketone (CF-PEEK) parts were produced. Digital image correlation and microscopy revealed the expected compressive behavior of the clamping system and the continuous pressure release upon the joining process owing to the rivet plastic deformation and the polymer squeezing flow. Two preferential paths of material flow were identified through the alternate replacement of the upper and lower composite parts by a poly-methyl-methacrylate (PMMA) plate—the composite upward and squeezing flow between the parts which induced their separation. The ultimate lap shear forces up to 6580 ± 383 N were achieved for the direct-friction-riveted CF-PEEK overlap joints. The formation of a gap to accommodate squeezed polymer between the composite parts during the process had no influence on the joint mechanical performance. The increase in the clamping pressure for joints produced with a low friction force did not affect the joint-anchoring efficiency and consequently the joint strength. On the other hand, the combined effect of a high-friction force and clamping pressure induced the inverted bell shape of the plastically deformed rivet tip, a lower anchoring efficiency, and the delamination of the composite, all of which decrease the mechanical strength by 31%. Therefore, the higher the friction force and clamping pressure, the more defects would be generated in the composite parts and the more changes in the shape of the plastically deformed rivet tip, leading to a lower level of quasi-static mechanical performance. All the joints failed by initial bearing of the composite and final rivet pull-out. The findings of this work can contribute to further improvement of the clamping design for industrial application.