Practical advances in numerical form finding and cutting pattern generation for membrane structures

Falko Dieringer, Roland Wüchner, Kai Uwe Bletzinger

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11 Scopus citations


This paper presents practical aspects and recent advances in computational methods for the design of membrane structures. Form finding and cutting pattern generation as crucial steps in the design process will be discussed. The updated reference strategy as form finding methodology will be developed from a rigorous continuum mechanical formulation. The method can be applied to any finite element discretization of cable and membrane structures subjected to prestress or other external loading. Cutting patterns of textile membrane structures are generated by the inverse engineering method. It is based on an optimization approach, which is also embedded in a full continuum mechanical description. Based on the description of the specific methods for form finding and cutting pattern generation, actual developments for both methods will be shown in detail. In case of the inverse engineering method, the control of equal edge length for associated patterns or the patterning of highly curved structures are examples for important and practically relevant enhancements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Finite element method
  • Form finding
  • Membrane structures
  • Patterning
  • Tension structures
  • Updated reference strategy


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