Collapse by Ponding of Air-Supported Spherical Caps

by David J. Malcolm, (A.M.ASCE), Sr. Engr.; DAF Indal Ltd., 3570 Hawkstone Road, Mississauga, Ontario, L5C 2V8 Canada,
Peter G. Glockner, (M.ASCE), Prof. and Head; Dept. of Mechanical Engrg., The Univ. of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4 Canada,

Serial Information: Journal of the Structural Division, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 9, Pg. 1731-1742

Document Type: Journal Paper


A theory is presented to predict the critical central weight which, in the presence a ponding medium, will lead to collapse of an inextensible air supported spherical membrane. Results are developed for a range of radii, pressures and ponding medium densities. Also explored is the manner in which these results will be effected by meridional action only, such as would be caused by a system of cables converging at the apex. A description is given of a series of tests carried out on two laboratory models to confirm the theoretical results. The experimental results indicate that the theory may lead to under design and that this instability is particularly sensitive to surface irregularities near the apex.

Subject Headings: Cables | Structural failures | Membranes

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