Curved shell structures are known for their excellent load-carrying capability and are commonly used in thin-walled constructions. Although theoretically able to withstand greater buckling loads than flat structures, shell structures are notoriously sensitive to imperfections owing to their postbuckling behavior often being governed by subcritical bifurcations. Thus, shell structures often buckle at significantly lower loads than those predicted numerically and the ensuing dynamic snap to another equilibrium can lead to permanent damage. Furthermore, the strong sensitivity to initial imperfections, as well as their stochastic nature, limits the predictive capability of current stability analyses. Our objective here is to convert the subcritical nature of the buckling event to a supercritical one, thereby improving the reliability of numerical predictions and mitigating the possibility of catastrophic failure. We explore the elastically nonlinear postbuckling response of axially compressed cylindrical panels using numerical continuation techniques. These analyses show that axially compressed panels exhibit a highly nonlinear and complex postbuckling behavior with many entangled postbuckled equilibrium curves. We unveil isolated regions of stable equilibria in otherwise unstable postbuckled regimes, which often possess greater load-carrying capacity. By modifying the initial geometry of the panel in a targeted - rather than stochastic - and imperceptible manner, the postbuckling behavior of these shells can be tailored without a significant increase in mass. These findings provide new insight into the buckling and postbuckling behavior of shell structures and opportunities for modifying and controlling their postbuckling response for enhanced efficiency and functionality.
- Bristol Composites Institute ACCIS
Data for publication: Nudging axially compressed cylindrical panels towards imperfection insensitivity