Validating Thrust Network Analysis using 3D-printed, structural models

Block P., Lachauer L. and Rippmann M.
Proceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures Symposium 2010
Shanghai, China

Scale models can be used to understand the equilibrium of masonry systems – and structural compression forms in general– as they stand not because of allowable stresses, but because of their geometry. This paper demonstrates the use of 3D-printed, structural models, and emphasizes their relevance, not only to assess the stability of complex masonry vaults, but also to push the limits of new compression-only structures. Thrust Network Analysis (TNA) is an innovative approach for exploring three-dimensional funicular networks. The TNA methodology was originally developed for stability analysis of historic vaulted structures in unreinforced masonry, extending graphic statics to fully 3-D problems. This framework is even more powerful as flexible approach for finding structural compression forms. Through the control of reciprocal force diagrams, which relate form and forces, new unexpected forms for compression-only shells become possible. This paper will show and discuss some surprising compression forms obtained with TNA to demonstrate how the approach gives the designer the power to start exploiting structurally indeterminacy of three-dimensional funicular systems. Thanks to recent advances in TNA, which integrate the interactive structural form finding process with geometric and fabrication constraints into a smooth digital chain, discrete 3D-printed scale models can easily be produced. These unglued “masonry” scale models serve as very convincing first validations of the capabilities of this novel approach.


    author    = "Block, P. and Lachauer, L. and Rippmann, M.",
    title     = "Validating Thrust Network Analysis using 3D-printed, structural models",
    booktitle = "Proceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures Symposium 2010",
    year      = "2010",
    editor    = "",
    volume    = "",
    number    = "",
    pages     = "",
    publisher = "",
    address   = "Shanghai, China",
    month     = "11",
    doi       = "",
    note      = "",

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