Large Deflections in Thin Rectangular Plates Subjected to Uniform Load: Pitfalls in the Application of Analytical Methods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Thin, rectangular structural plates are used in a wide range of applications, including architectural sheet metal cladding, in which the magnitude of lateral deflection is much larger the material's thickness. This study compares new experimental data with established algebraic models and assesses the influence of practicalities such as geometric tolerances and partial fixity of connections. Errors and anomalies are identified in existing analytical formulas. It is also shown that standardised test methods measure only part of an imperfectly-flat plate's lateral movement, and that the actual displacement of plates in real structures can be several times greater than that inferred by a naive application of non-linear plate theory. Findings are presented as set of guidelines to help practising engineers create economical structures that will not deflect excessively when load is applied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1419-1432
Number of pages14
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2020


  • Cladding
  • Facade engineering
  • Föppl membrane
  • Large deflection
  • Sheet metal
  • von Kármán plate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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