Certain classes of slender structures of complex cross-section or fabricated from specialised materials can exhibit a bi-linear bending moment–curvature relationship that has a strong influence on their global structural behaviour. This condition may be encountered, for instance, in (a) non-linear elastic or inelastic post-buckling problems if the cross-section stiffness may be well approximated by a bi-linear model; (b) multi-layered structures such as stranded cables, power transmission lines, umbilical cables and flexible pipes where the drop in the bending stiffness is associated with an internal friction mechanism. This paper presents a mathematical formulation and an analytical solution for such slender structures with a bi-linear bending moment versus curvature constitutive behaviour and subjected to axial terminal forces. A set of five first-order non-linear ordinary differential equations are derived from considering geometrical compatibility, equilibrium of forces and moments and constitutive equations, with hinged boundary conditions prescribed at both ends, resulting a complex two-point boundary value problem. The variables are non-dimensionalised and solutions are developed for monotonic and unloading conditions. The results are presented in non-dimensional graphs for a range of critical curvatures and reductions in bending stiffness, and it is shown how these parameters affect the structure's post-buckling behaviour
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