Nondestructive Prediction of the Buckling Load of Imperfect Shells

Anaïs Abramian, Emmanuel Virot, Emilio Lozano, Shmuel M. Rubinstein, Tobias M. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


From soda cans to space rockets, thin-walled cylindrical shells are abundant, offering exceptional load carrying capacity at relatively low weight. However, the actual load at which any shell buckles and collapses is very sensitive to imperceptible defects and cannot be predicted, which challenges the of such structures. Consequently, probabilistic descriptions in terms of empirical design rules are used and designing reliable structures requires the use of conservative strength estimates. We introduce a nonlinear description where finite-amplitude perturbations trigger buckling. Drawing from the analogy between imperfect shells which buckle and imperfect pipe flow which becomes turbulent, we experimentally show that lateral probing of cylindrical shells reveals their strength nondestructively. A new ridge-tracking method is applied to commercial cylinders with a hole showing that when the location where buckling nucleates is known we can accurately predict the buckling load of each individual shell, within ±5%. Our study provides a new promising framework to understand shell buckling, and more generally, imperfection-sensitive instabilities.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number225504
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number22
StatePublished - 25 Nov 2020

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© 2020 American Physical Society.


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