Journal article

Mechanism-Based Approach for the Deployment of a Tensegrity-Ring Module

Tensegrity structures are spatial systems composed of tension and compression components in a self-equilibrated prestress stable state. Although the concept is over 60 years old, few tensegrity-based structures have been used for engineering purposes. Tensegrity-ring modules are deployable modules composed of a single strut circuit that, when combined, create a hollow rope. The "hollow-rope" concept was shown to be a viable system for a tensegrity footbridge. This paper focuses on the deployment of pentagonal ring modules for a deployable footbridge application. The deployment sequence of a module is controlled by adjusting cable lengths (cable actuation). The geometric study of the deployment for a single module identified the path space allowing deployment without strut contact. Additionally, a deployment path that reduces the number of actuated cables was found. The number of actuated cables is further reduced by employing continuous cables. A first-generation prototype was used to verify both findings experimentally. The structural response during both unfolding and folding is studied numerically using the dynamic relaxation method. The deployment-analysis algorithm applies cable-length changes first to create finite mechanisms allowing deployment and then to find new equilibrium configurations. Therefore, the actuation-step size is identified as the most critical parameter for a successful deployment analysis. Finally, it is shown that the deployability of the footbridge does not affect its element sizing because stresses during deployment are lower than in-service values. DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0000491. (C) 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers.

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