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This paper is focused on the specific aspects of designing membrane structures. These structures have specific requirements such as form-finding and cutting patterns generation. These topics are the focus of many research works and there are many methods proposed to achieve the desired results. However in this paper these issues will be discussed more from the practical point of view than from the theoretical one. The paper will be followed by examples, which will complement the discussed topic and show the special attention required during the design process.
The RF-FORM-FINDING add-on module determines equilibrium shapes of membrane and cable elements in RFEM. In this calculation process, the program searches for such a geometric position in which the surface stress/prestress of membranes and cables is in equilibrium with natural and geometric boundary conditions. This process is called form-finding (hereinafter referred to as FF). The FF calculation can be activated in RFEM globally in the "General Data" of a model, "Options" tab. After selecting the corresponding option, a new load case or a calculation process called RF-FORM FINDING is created in RFEM. An additional FF parameter is available for defining surface stress and prestress when entering cables and membranes. By activating the FF option, the program always starts the form-finding process before the pure structural calculation of internal forces, deformation, eigenvalues, etc., and generates a corresponding prestressed model for further analysis.
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