Structural Analysis of Membrane and Cable Structures in RFEM

Form-Finding and Cutting Patterns of Membrane Structures

27 February 2017

The finite element analysis software RFEM allows for form‑finding and structural analysis & design of membrane and cable structures. In addition, the software provides the option to determine cutting patterns of tensile membrane structures and transfer them to a CAD program.

The form-finding and structural analysis of membrane and cable structures can be performed on the entire model. In this way, the elasticity of the substructure can be taken into account.

Form-finding of Tensile Membrane and Cable Structures

The RF‑FORM‑FINDING add‑on module searches for shapes of membrane and cable structures. The shape is calculated by the equilibrium between the surface forces and the natural or geometric boundary conditions. The prestressed model is then used as a basis for further calculations.

In the form‑finding process, it is possible to consider the self‑weight, any free loads and interior pressures. You can use both isotropic or orthotropic materials for the membranes.

The form‑finding process is performed iteratively according to the URS method (Updated Reference Strategy) by Prof. Bletzinger / Prof. Ramm, which is one of the most complex and accurate method.

Cutting Patterns of Tensile Membrane Structures

The RF‑CUTTING‑PATTERN add‑on module generates very precise cutting patterns for membrane structures. Boundary conditions of the cutting patterns on curved geometry are determined by boundary lines and independent planar cutting lines or geodesic cutting lines. The flattening process is performed according to the minimum energy theory.

It is possible to consider constant or linear compensations in the warp and weft direction. Furthermore, you can define welding and border allowances for the manufacturing process.

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