How are the properties of the elasticity and shear modulus of a membrane fabric with the usual force/length syntax transformed into the general force/surface syntax to be entered in RFEM?


The thickness of membranes is usually very thin compared to the planar extension. Due to these extreme geometric conditions, the stiffness of membrane fabrics is usually related directly to a strip width, that is the line (compare with a line spring), without considering the thickness.

In contrast, the general FEA software RFEM processes the material definitions (E, G, ν, and so on) and surface properties (shell, membrane, and so on) independently of each other. Thus, the pure definition of the material still does not clarify whether there is a rigid plate structure or a flexible membrane structure subjected to a tensile load. The final element specification is not clear until the surface properties are considered additionally for the simulation. Therefore, RFEM always requires the description of stiffness in the general unit syntax of force/surface, regardless of the geometric conditions of the structural component to be simulated.

Thus, the line-related membrane stiffness in the force/length syntax can be transferred to the force/surface syntax in RFEM by considering the reference thickness d:

$\frac{\mathrm F}{\mathrm A}=\frac{\left({\displaystyle\frac{\mathrm F}{\mathrm L}}\right)}{\mathrm d}$

F is the force,
L is the length,
d is the reference thickness,
A is the surface.

The stiffness transformed into the force/surface format in this way is thus related to the reference thickness and can convert the initially specified membrane stiffness in the force/length format in RFEM by specifying the reference thickness d as the membrane surface thickness.


E-modulus G-modulus Membrane Reference thickness Surface thickness Standard format


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RFEM Main Program
RFEM 5.xx

Main Program

Structural engineering software for finite element analysis (FEA) of planar and spatial structural systems consisting of plates, walls, shells, members (beams), solids and contact elements

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RFEM Tensile Membrane Structures

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Form-finding of tensile membrane and cable structures

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RFEM Tensile Membrane Structures

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