Mechanism-based approach for the deployment of a tensegrity-ring module

L. Rhode-Barbarigos, C. Schulin, N. Bel Hadj Ali, R. Motro, I. F.C. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-548
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Structural Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Active structures
  • Compression
  • Deployable structures
  • Dynamic relaxation method
  • Relaxation (mechanics)
  • Structures
  • Tensegrity structures
  • Tension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanism-based approach for the deployment of a tensegrity-ring module'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this