Finite Element Analysis for Tensile Fabric Structure

Seeing a tensile fabric structure design for the first time is a bliss in the eye. However, looking at it in the engineering point of view, the design itself may not be sufficient to build a quality and reliable fabric structure without undergoing a series of details engineering analysis.

The shape and form of the fabric roof system is not enough to consider that a remarkable tensile fabric structure will be built out of a simple idea. It takes more engineering & detailing sessions and finite element analysis between engineers and architects to achieve what is working and still aesthetic tensile membrane structure.

What is Finite Element Analysis in tensile membrane roof ?

Finite Element Analysis or FEA, is a form of structure analysis. For tensile membrane structures, finite element analysis is used by structural engineers during the design phase of a tensile fabric structure project. Principles of solid mechanics are applied and concentrates on the boundary, solidity, and boundary conditions. During the finite element analysis stage for tensile membrane roof, engineers applies force on the designed structure and checks if there are any displacements and records the values of stress and strains. After which, the values are adjusted to meet the approximate exact values of an ideal value to ensure that the design is reliable, durable and able to withstand any environmental conditions.

Amongst the common analysis aligned with finite element analysis are load analysis which includes external loads such as wind load, reaction loads and steel structure analysis. With load analysis, the overall size and shape of the structure is obtained which includes the structural framework and the fabric length and shape. All structural reactions in relation to certain load applied to the structure are arranged in a tabulated layout.

All in all, all results from the software driven finite element analysis is compared to the manual calculations prior the analysis is performed tensile roof. The difference between the two calculation results is the grey area that needs to be assessed and addressed by the experience design and engineering team. The goal of the finite element analysis in membrane structure is to find the most static and dynamic equilibrium of the overall structure to avoid damage, failure, irregularity and obtain consistency of the structure as desired.