Tensegrity Structure

Today’s Topics:

  • What is Tensegrity?
  • What am I Doing?
  • Problem Solving

What is Tensegrity?

Tensegrity. A pretty uncommon word right? Don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was until a week into my research.

Tensegrity is the idea that you can support 2 solid objects by only connecting them with string.

It’s a daunting task, but it does actually work. If you think about a string, it is easy to bend and move them together. When you try to pull that string apart it takes a lot of force before it breaks.

Getting to Tensegrity requires you to know how to support the objects weight in tension, while also using other strings to stabilize the object from falling.

What am I Doing?

As a basic idea, you can search up tensegrity on the internet, and the images above is just about what you would find.

Tensegrity does not only take one form. It can be explored through many different ideas and concepts that have infinite results.

I then came up with the idea of tensegrity as a C shape. Where when you combine pieces, it turns into a sphere made of two small semi circles. These modules can then be combined together as a structure.

Since this study model, I have been able to start working at full scale. I have been using wire cutting as my process as I use foam, then I use balsa wood as structural reinforcement for the foam.

Problem Solving

Many of my problems with making this at a full scale is difficulty of assembly, alongside strength of materials.

Originally I was going to use the foam by itself until I realized how much force it would be under from always trying to bend it inwards.

So I was lucky to find scrap pieces of balsa wood that could easily span and be glued along my curves.

I only had enough to like the inside edge of each piece. Then I soon found out that it would not be enough.

Upon assembling my pieces together in tension, the outer edge of the foam broke, while the inner edge remained intact because of the wood.

Making mistakes is part of the journey and i am learning from it as I work. I’m looking forward to getting to the end of the project and share more about it with you!

Thanks for tuning into this week’s blog post, I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know if you have any questions about tensegrity or the work I’m doing and I’ll be happy to answer. As always, Dream Big!

Published by Alonzo Colon

Architecture Student at Virginia Tech

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