A Tensegrity Paradigm for Minimal Mass Design of Roofs and Bridges
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Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. This work presents a parametric design approach to simply-supported structures, exhibiting minimal mass tensegrity architectures (axially-loaded prestressible configurations of axially-loaded members) in two-dimensions. This provides minimal mass bridge structures in the plane. The mass minimization problem considers a distributed loading condition, under buckling and yielding constraints. The minimal mass structure is proved to be a tensegrity system with an optimal complexity. This optimal complexity (number of structural elements) depends only on material properties and the magnitude of the external load. The fact that the minimal mass structure is a Class 1 Tensegrity substructure has significant economic advantage. Class 1 structures are less expensive to construct, and substructures are easily deployable, offering portable applications for small spans. They can be easily assembled for prefabricated component parts for large spans. This minimal mass theory is then used to design a support structure for a solar panel cover of water canals, stopping evaporative losses and generating power without requiring additional land.