The nonlinear dynamic response of an imperfect circular cylindrical shell under combined static and dynamic axial load is analyzed. A suitable expansion of the radial displacement, able to describe both buckling and dynamic behaviors is developed; the effect of geometric imperfections is accounted for. The response of the shell subjected to a sinusoidal axial excitation at its ends, giving rise to a parametric excitation, is considered. The effect of the imperfections on the critical value of the dynamic load, that causes the loss of stability of the system, is analyzed. Interesting nonlinear dynamic phenomena are observed: direct resonance with softening behavior and parametric instability with period doubling response.

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