Toward an integrated form-finding methodology in Computer Aided Design.T-CAD: progresses in free-form design of Tensegrity systems
Abstract Form-find problems are of central interest in research and design of innovative lightweight structures such as tensegrity systems. Within form-find methodologies, design topology and design optimization problems -disjoint problems in usual practice- commonly use numerical models based on dynamic relaxation and force density methods. In practice, optimal and comprehensive design methodologies applied to tensegrity systems have limited examples embedded in concrete design toolset. Moreover design flexibility and automated manufacturing capabilities still penalizes a cost-effective proliferation and feasible developments of such structural system. We present some results of an experimental methodology of form finding, implemented into a design toolset tailored for a representative case study of a tensegrity component. The toolkit allows flexible design and easy fabrication of arbitrary and innovative tensegrity systems, exploring -within complexity-new opportunities for designers. Using biomimetics principles into a flexible design partner, the design toolset combines Particles Spring Model to Multi Agent System. Given an initial proto-topology and any boundary conditions, the software form finds the optimal topology and its optimization according to the demanded design task, improving output controllability. Real-time analysis of dynamic behaviors and structural performances are visualized in functional maps. Results are shown in fabrication datasheets for simpler construction and assembling procedures. A selected testing-prototype complements findings, suggesting needed improvements. Further investigations might ask for a refinement of the methodology and its implementation, extending and simplifying data-visualization and interface. The methodology proposed facilitates use of tensegrity systems in construction reality, simplifying tedious procedures. The applicability to multidisciplinary research fields would explore new forms of aesthetic, structure and construction technology. Briefly we expose some of the latest developments.