The buckling capacity of thin cylindrical shells subject to uniform external pressure is investigated in this paper. Thin cylindrical shells are known to be highly sensitive to geometric and material imperfections such as wall thickness variation, non-circularity and random geometric imperfections. The effect of imperfection on the buckling load is studied using finite element (FE) models and laboratory experiments. Imperfection measurements are taken on small scale steel cans and these measurements are modelled and analysed using a geometrically nonlinear static finite element analysis. The cans are then tested in the laboratory and the results compared with those predicted by the FE models and theory.

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