The formulation and solution of the large elastic axisymmetric deformation problem corresponding to a membrane shell from an initially flat laminated composite material is provided. The numerical solution method developed is found to be very stable and accurate and is easily implemented on a personal computer. The results which consider initial pretension in the membrane are compared with the finite element results and with results obtained by assuming an approximate deflected shape in conjunction with the energy methods. The deformed profile, surface slope, and in-plane tensions are presented as a function of radial distance. Their variation with initial tension and normal pressure parameters is also shown. This problem is of importance in the design of large-diameter membrane concentrators for solar applications.

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