A recent international conference introduced the latest R&D on fabric structure design
By Josep l. de Llorens
Structural Membranes 2011, the Fifth International Conference on Textile Composites and Inflatable Structures, was held in Barcelona, Spain, in October 2011. Organized by the International Centre for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE), the conference was the fifth of a series of symposiums that began in Barcelona in 2003 and will continue in Munich in 2013.
At the three-day conference, eight lectures and 85 presentations in 15 technical sessions were given to 118 participants from 25 countries and three continents. The main topics were textile composites and inflatable structures, which have become increasingly popular for a variety of applications in civil engineering, architecture, aerospace engineering and other fields. Typical examples include membrane roofs and covers, sails, inflatable buildings and pavilions, airships, inflatable furniture and airspace structures.
The ability to provide numerical solutions for increasingly complex membrane and inflatable structures is advancing rapidly because of remarkable advances in the development of nonlinear structural systems. Significant progress has been made in the formulation of finite element methods for static and dynamic problems, complex constitutive material behavior and coupled aero-elastic analysis. Structural Membranes 2011 addressed both the theoretical bases for structural analysis and the numerical algorithms necessary for efficient and robust computer implementation.
Main lectures in the plenary sessions were devoted to inflatable structures for space vehicles, zoomorphism and bio-architecture, tensairity structures, Expo Axis (Shanghai, China), parachutes, membrane molds, shape optimization and tubular inflatable structures.
Specialized technical sessions (organized by guest experts) focused on design, test methods, thermal properties and photovoltaics, inflatable structures, applications and realizations.
In keeping with its objectives, Structural Membranes 2011 collected and disseminated state-of-the-art research and technology for the design, analysis, construction and maintenance of textile and inflatable structures. A significant part of the conference presented advances in new textile composites for membrane structure applications, as well as in innovative design, construction and maintenance procedures.