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Investigation on the Geometric Imperfections driven Local Buckling Onset in Composite Conical Shells


Buckling is a critical failure phenomenon for structures, and represents a threat for thin shells subjected to compressive forces. The global buckling load, for a conical structure, depends on the geometry and material properties of the shell, on the stacking sequence, on the type of applied load and on the initial geometric imperfections. Geometric imperfections, occurring inevitably during manufacturing and assembly of thin-walled composite structures, produce a reduction in the carrying load capability with respect to the design value. This is the reason why investigating these defects is of major concern in order to avoid over-conservative design structures. In this paper, the buckling behavior a conical structure with 45° semi-vertical angle is numerically investigated. The initial imperfections are taken into account by using different strategies. At first, the Single Perturbation Load Approach (SPLA), which accounts for defects in the form of a lateral load, normal to the surface, has been adopted. Then, the actual measured defects have been applied to the structure by using the Real Measured Mid-Surface Imperfections (MSI) approach. Investigations on cylindrical shells using the first strategy have already shown the occurrence of a particular phenomenon called “local snap-through”, which represents a preliminary loss of stiffness. In order to better understand this phenomenon for conical shells, both the aforementioned techniques have been used to provide an exhaustive overview of the imperfections sensitiveness in conical composite shells. This study is related to part of the work performed in the frame of the European Union (EU) project DESICOS.

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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under Priority Space, Grant Agreement no.282522 ( The information in this paper reflects only the author’s views and the European Community is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

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Correspondence to Aniello Riccio.

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Di Pasqua, M.F., Khakimova, R., Castro, S.G.P. et al. Investigation on the Geometric Imperfections driven Local Buckling Onset in Composite Conical Shells. Appl Compos Mater 23, 879–897 (2016).

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