AbstractInitial geometric imperfections have been identified as the main cause for the large discrepancies between experimental and theoretical buckling loads of thin-walled circular cylindrical shells under axial compression. The extreme sensitivity to imperfections has been previously addressed and mitigated through the introduction of stiffeners; however, sensitivity still remains. Optimized corrugated cylindrical shells are largely insensitive to imperfections and hence exhibit excellent load-bearing capacities, but their complex geometries make their construction difficult and costly using conventional manufacturing techniques. This was overcome in the present study through additive manufacturing (AM). Nine optimized corrugated shells with different diameter-to-thickness ratios, together with one reference circular cylindrical shell, were additively manufactured by means of powder bed fusion (PBF) from austenitic and martensitic precipitation hardening stainless steel. The structural behavior of the AM shells was then investigated experimentally with the testing program comprising tensile coupon tests, measurements of basic geometric properties, and axial compression tests. Numerical analyses were also conducted following completion of the physical experiments. The experimental and numerical results verified the effectiveness of optimized corrugated cylindrical shells in achieving improved local buckling capacity and reduced imperfection sensitivity. Initial recommendations for the structural design of the studied cross-sections are made.

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