This work deals with the modelling and numerical simulation of aluminium stiffened panels, assembled by means of friction stir welding (FSW) operations, and subjected to compressive loads that can catastrophically induce buckling (global or local) unstable modes and, subsequently, overall failure. Due to their geometrical complexity, added to localized thermo-mechanical effects that typically come from joining by welding, approximation methods such as the Finite Element Method are typically used in such nonlinear analyses, having proved to be useful to designers focused on the prediction of the behaviour (before and post buckling) of such structures. Being grounded on previous contributions from the authors, the present paper aims to bring a number of innovative aspects to the current state of the art by considering in the developed models the simultaneous influence of residual stress fields, material softening effects and geometrical imperfections. Doing so, it is possible to infer about the singular and combined influence of these effects in the overall structural performance of stiffened panels, building up a useful and comprehensive methodology for design stages.
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