In this paper the inelastic effect on the axisymmetric buckling load of a clamped shallow spherical shell subjected to an external pressure is investigated. A variational principle derived from a set of rate equilibrium equations and expressed in terms of Lagrangian variables is introduced. Then, the variational principle is employed with a step-by-step numerical process based on a Rayleigh-Ritz technique to determine the initial pressure. The spherical shell is idealized as a structure composed of four thin load-carrying layers of equal thickness and made of a work hardening material. The numerical results of the present analysis compare favorably with those of available experimental work.

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