The axial buckling capacity of a thin cylindrical shell depends on the shape and the size of the imperfections that are present in it. Therefore, the prediction of the shells buckling capacity is difficult, expensive, and time consuming, if not impossible, because the prediction requires a priori knowledge about the imperfections. As a result, thin cylindrical shells are designed conservatively using the knockdown factor approach that accommodates the uncertainties associated with the imperfections that are present in the shells; almost all the design codes follow this approach explicitly or implicitly. A novel procedure is proposed for the accurate prediction of the axial buckling capacity of thin cylindrical shells without measuring the imperfections and is based on the probing of the axially loaded shells. Computational and experimental implementation of the procedure yields accurate results when the probing is done in location of highest imperfection amplitude. However, the procedure overpredicts the capacity when the probing is done away from that point. This study demonstrates the crucial role played by the probing location and shows that the prediction of imperfect cylinders is possible if the probing is done at the proper location.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1420570). S. M. R. and N. L. C. acknowledge support from the Google Faculty Research Awards (2019). S. M. R. acknowledges support from the Alfred P. Sloan Research Foundation (FG-2016-6925). This work also benefited from the contributions of Lewis R. B. Picard, Nathaniel B. Vilas, and Jonathan Zauberman, who helped carry the experimental setup up several flights of stairs.
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