Let me begin by stating that my query is a hypothetical one and very general in nature; consequently I cannot supply specifics like material specifications and exact dimensions. Who knows, maybe their exists no available general answer or rule-of-thumb. The situation is one in which an economic decision must be made between increasing the thickness of a cylindrical shell or alternatively adding a single exterior stiffening ring to a thinner shell, in both instances to provide additional support and prevent buckling due to a given external pressure. Let's assume that it is allowable for the stiffening ring to be attached by intermittent double fillet welds. Let's further assume all the materials are low-alloy carbon steel and no special PWHT or MDMT conditions are relevant. I'm sure that such an economic analysis would depend on the production volume, i.e. the number of identical shells to be fabricated, or would it? Considerations I suppose would be the cost to purchase, bend, and weld the stiffener verses the additional cost associated with the thicker cylindrical shell? I do not have a clue as to the cost of labor for bending (shell or stiffener) and the material and labor cost to produce welds. I am not lazy; if anyone can direct me to a good resource I am am willing to do the research. Thus far I have no success in that regard. Alas, I am rumbling.
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