Journal article

Design of tensegrity structures using parametric analysis and stochastic search

Tensegrity structures are lightweight structures composed of cables in tension and struts in compression. Since tensegrity systems exhibit geometrically nonlinear behavior, finding optimal structural designs is difficult. This paper focuses on the use of stochastic search for the design of tensegrity systems. A pedestrian bridge made of square hollow-rope tensegrity ring modules is studied. Two design methods are compared in this paper. Both methods aim to find the minimal cost solution. The first method approximates current practice in design offices. More specifically, parametric analysis that is similar to a gradient-based optimization is used to identify good designs. Parametric studies are executed for each system parameter in order to identify its influence on response. The second method uses a stochastic search strategy called probabilistic global search Lausanne. Both methods provide feasible configurations that meet civil engineering criteria of safety and serviceability. Parametric studies also help in defining search parameters such as appropriate penalty costs to enforce constraints while optimizing using stochastic search. Traditional design methods are useful to gain an understanding of structural behavior. However, due to the many local minima in the solution space, stochastic search strategies find better solutions than parametric studies.

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