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Numerical and Physical Modeling of Tensegrity Structures


IASS 2004 - International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures

Montpellier - France , September 20-24 , 2004




This work outlines a research on tensegrity structures, currently under development at the Department of Structural Engineering of the Polytechnics School of the University of São Paulo. Initially, the paper briefly discuss some proper definitions to tensegrity, since there still is some controversy about aspects as disconnection between compressed bars, kinematic deficiency, presence of infinitesimal mechanisms and of self-equilibrated internal stress fields, adding geometrical stiffness to the structure.

Nevertheless, tensegrity structures fit well into the broader classification of tension structures, and also to them the design process generally includes a form finding process. This work presents alterative procedures to form finding, that were implemented in the PEFSYS finite element program [PIM98], including a variable-initial length cable element, capable of sustaining a constant prescribe force, previously described in [DEI02]. The program PEFSYS was then employed to find equilibrium shapes and to simulate the erection process of tensegrity models, and to develop a preliminary design of a large cable dome.