Investigation of Buckling Behavior of Composite Shell Structures with Cutouts

Mariano A. Arbelo, Annemarie Herrmann, Saullo G.P. Castro, Regina Khakimova, Rolf Zimmermann, Richard Degenhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Thin-walled cylindrical composite shell structures can be applied in space applications, looking for lighter and cheaper launcher transport system. These structures are prone to buckling under axial compression and may exhibit sensitivity to geometrical imperfections. Today the design of such structures is based on NASA guidelines from the 1960’s using a conservative lower bound curve generated from a database of experimental results. In this guideline the structural behavior of composite materials may not be appropriately considered since the imperfection sensitivity and the buckling load of shells made of such materials depend on the lay-up design. It is clear that with the evolution of the composite materials and fabrication processes this guideline must be updated and / or new design guidelines investigated. This need becomes even more relevant when cutouts are introduced to the structure, which are commonly necessary to account for access points and to provide clearance and attachment points for hydraulic and electric systems. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how a cutout with different dimensions affects the buckling load of a thin-walled cylindrical shell structure in combination with other initial geometric imperfections. In this context, this paper present some observations regarding the buckling load behavior vs. cutout size and radius over thickness ratio, of laminated composite curved panels and cylindrical shells, that could be applied in further recommendations, to allow identifying when the buckling of the structure is dominated by the presence of the cutout or by other initial imperfections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-636
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Composite Materials
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Composite materials
  • Cylinder with openings
  • Finite element model
  • Knock-down factor
  • Shell buckling
  • Thin-walled structures

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