Buckling analysis, design and optimisation of variable-stiffness sandwich panels

Broderick H Coburn*, Paul M. Weaver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
396 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years variable-stiffness (VS) technology has been shown to offer significant potential weight savings and/or performance gains for both monolithic and stiffened plate structures when buckling is a driving consideration. As yet, little work has been reported on VS sandwich structures. As such, a semi-analytical model is developed based on the Ritz energy method for the buckling of sandwich panels with fibre-steered VS face-sheets. The model captures both global and shear crimping instabilities and is shown to explain both types of buckling responses observed and the mode switching between them. Quantitative agreement with detailed three-dimensional finite element analysis was found to be within 13%. Subsequent parametric and optimisation studies, which were performed for many practical geometries using the developed model, reveal that, whilst VS sandwich panels show a significant improvement in global buckling performance, they suffer a reduction in shear crimping performance when compared to their straight-fibre counterparts. This behaviour is found to be due to the VS face-sheets creating a pre-buckling load redistribution where regions locally exceed the critical shear crimping load and induce the short wavelength instability at a reduced panel level load. For VS sandwich panels with modest to low transverse shear moduli of the core, shear crimping can become the critical mode diminishing performance benefits relative to straight-fibre configurations. Cores with sufficient rigidity, thus preventing shear crimping, showed improvements in critical buckling load in the order of 80% when using VS, however this improvement reduces to a negligible amount with decreasing core transverse shear moduli. The transverse shear flexibility and load redistribution are thus two key parameters that must be considered carefully in the design of sandwich panels, in order to exploit the benefits of VS fully in this novel structural configuration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Early online date4 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Fibre-steering
  • Ritz method
  • Shear crimping
  • Transverse shear
  • Variable-angle tow

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Buckling analysis, design and optimisation of variable-stiffness sandwich panels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this