Ingenious Inflatable Structures
At the beginning of last year we were approached by a newly established company that design and manufacture inflatable structures. They wanted us to provide them with structural engineering advice and to assist them in developing their inflatable fabric structures. Their various systems comprise a combination of double skin continuously inflated wall panel systems, and permanently pressurised sealed tube frameworks. The two components, manufactured from nylon and PVC coated polyester respectively, combine to create interesting structural forms that work well in many different uses and locations. The structures are extremely lightweight and are very rapidly erected and dismantled.
The analysis of these structures is particularly complex, because the structures behave non-linearly when inflated and under applied loading. We have carefully developed techniques for load determination and non-linear analysis using the dynamic relaxation technique. These methods have also allowed us to use form finding analysis to determine optimal structural geometries for stressed surfaces. The largest structure constructed so far within the development programme is a 48 metre by 24 metre clear span dome, know as the Scarab, which is used for events and can withstand wind speeds in excess of 55 MPH. We are also in the process of developing permanent structures using the permanently pressurised and sealed tube system, with single skin stressed membrane panels stretched between.
Client, Manufacturer, and Designer Ingenious Inflatables Ltd