Software for Form-Finding & Cutting Patterns of Membrane Structures
Structural Analysis of Cable and Membrane Structures
The structural analysis programs RFEM and RSTAB provide various options for the design of cable and membrane structures.
Both programs perform calculation with large deformation analysis.
Calculation in RFEM
The structural analysis software RFEM designs membranes together with the supporting structure (for example cables).
Membranes can be modelled as general and quadrangle surfaces. The quadrangle surfaces are general quadrilateral surfaces whose boundary lines do not have to rest in one plane. Therefore, it is possible to model surfaces with anticlastic and synclastic curvature, which is characteristic for the membrane structures.
The surface types Membrane and Membrane-orthotropic are available for design. In the type Membrane-orthotropic, it is possible to define different stiffness properties dependent on the direction. Moreover, it is possible to define different directional stiffness properties for the surface type Membrane Orthotropic.
In addition, RFEM provides an option to model and design the connection plates, fittings, and others.
Form-Finding of Membrane and Cable Structures
RF‑FORM‑FINDING searches for shapes of membranes and cable structures. The shape is defined by the equilibrium of surface stress (loading prestress) and natural and geometrical boundary reactions. The pre‑deformed model serves as a basis for all further calculations.
Cutting Patterns of Membrane Structures
RF‑CUTTING‑PATTERN generates and organizes 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 lines. The flattening process is performed according to the minimum energy theory.
Calculation in RSTAB
In the frame & truss analysis software RSTAB, it is possible to design the primary construction of membrane and cable structures. Form-finding and framework design may be carried out in the engineering software Easy by Technet. The modular program system Easy performs especially the geometrically nonlinear calculation of membranes and pneumatic cushions. RSTAB has a special connection to this design program used for light framework structures.
The internal forces are determined in Easy by Technet where the membrane is also dimensioned. Then, it is necessary to import the data to the structural analysis program RSTAB by Dlubal Software in order to perform the design and stability analysis.
Since the stiffnesses may affect the forces in a membrane significantly, the cross-sections optimized in RSTAB are returned to Easy for recalculation during the iterative process. After the design, RSTAB can also be used as a tool for documentation of the structural analysis including tables and graphics.
Add-on Modules for Structural Analysis of Cable and Membrane Structures
In addition to the RF-FORM-FINDING and RF‑CUTTING‑PATTERN add‑on modules for RFEM, you can find more useful add‑on modules for structural analysis of cable and membrane structures under the Steel Structures industry.
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The best I have used
“RFEM is the best I have used. I've have experience with RISA, STAAD, ETABS, Visual Analysis, and others. In the tensile/fabric structure world, I've tried NDN, Forten, Easy, etc. Once you get used to RFEM's interface, it has no comparison to the others. Even with typical structures, it's much easier.”
Customer Projects and Application Examples | Form-Finding, Cables & Membranes
Group of tents | Representation of contour lines in RFEM
Tent structures at the Denver International Airport
Tension forces in cables and contour lines after form-finding in RFEM
Membrane roof structure
Contour lines after form-finding in RFEM
Membrane structure before and after form-finding in RFEM
Cable tensions after form-finding in RFEM
Tent structure before and after form-finding in RFEM