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Scaling Methodology for Buckling of Composite Conical Shells in Axial Compression



Conical shells are commonly used as structural components for launch vehicles. The axial compression experienced during launch is one of the sizing load cases, because it can lead to loss of structural stability. Because experimentally testing these full-scale structures is cumbersome and expensive, it is expedient to understand how reduced-scale shells can be designed such that their buckling behavior is representative of the full-scale shell behavior. An analytical, sequential scaling methodology is developed based on the nondimensional governing equations for composite conical shells with a symmetric, balanced layup and negligible flexural anisotropy. Linear and nonlinear finite element analyses characterizing the buckling behavior of the different size shells yielded comparable results in terms of buckling load, meridional displacement, and buckling mode. The inclusion of geometric imperfections affects the prediction accuracy, but not to the extent that the methodology is no longer valid.


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