What are the different types of tensile fabric structures, and what are the pros and cons of each one? Continue reading to learn more.
From providing shelter of environmental conditions such as rain and sun to improving the aesthetics of an outdoor area, tensile fabric structures have many advantages for businesses or residential customers.
In this article, we will take a look at the main types of tensile fabric structures, exactly how they differ from each other, as well as the biggest pros and cons associated with them. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it:
What is a tensile fabric structure?
Before we discuss the different types of tensile fabric structures, let’s answer one key question: what is a tensile fabric structure?
A tensile fabric structure is a type of structure that provides roofing and shading for stadiums, university campuses, exhibition centres, swimming pools, transportation hubs, playgrounds, and other outdoor areas. It is characterised by its tensioned membranes or cables, which support the weight of the structure.
Tensile structures are generally lightweight, flexible, and offer a high strength-to-weight ratio. The stable and efficient structure of the tensioned fabric is supported by a series of poles, columns, and other elements.
What are the benefits of tensile fabric structures?
While the benefits may vary among the different types of tensile fabric structures, some of the major advantages include:
– Flexibility in design – their shape and size can be customised to fit the individual requirements of each customer and for each project, encouraging innovative designs;
– Personalisation – tensile structures can be fabricated in a wide range of colours, fabrics and patterns, allowing for a high level of customisation and corporate branding.
– Versatility – they not only can be used in permanent structures like stadiums and campuses, but are also perfect for temporary structures such as outdoor exhibitions.
– Lightweight – most types of tensile fabric structures are lightweight, which makes them easy to transport, install and dismantle, which provides a lot of convenience, especially for temporary projects.
– Durability – their flexible nature allows them to withstand wind, rain and other weather conditions, which makes them more durable than traditional structures.
– Cost-effective – due to the lightweight materials and simplified installation process, tensile fabric structures are significantly more cost-effective than traditional structures.
On top of these benefits, tensile fabric structures can also add the perfect aesthetic touch to your design, a factor which is very important when it comes to branding and promoting brand awareness.
Since they can be fabricated in a wide range of custom colours, shapes, fabrics and patterns, they can be used to create eye-catching designs that add a particular vibe around your brand.
What are the types of tensile fabric structures?
Now that we have a better perspective on tensile fabric structures and their benefits, let’s take a look at the different types of tensile fabric structures:
1. Cone-shaped structures
Cone shaped structures consist of a single, cone-shaped fabric that is tensioned between support points. They have a simple installation process, and have various applications among smaller projects such as patios, playgrounds and temporary exhibitions.
– Aesthetics: the cone-shaped structure is aesthetically pleasing, and it provides a unique appearance that can enhance the overall atmosphere of the outdoor space.
– Easy installation: as we mentioned earlier, this type of tensile fabric structures is relatively simple to install as it requires fewer support points than other structures.
– Cost-effective: they require less fabric than other structures. Combined with the easy installation and the lightweight materials, they are a perfect option for smaller projects.
– Flexibility: cone-shaped structures can be used for a variety of applications, including event structures, sports facilities, retail and commercial structures and more.
– Limited size: among the different types of tensile fabric structures, cone-shaped ones are limited in their size, making them unsuitable for larger or complex projects.
– Limited coverage: the cone shape of the structure doesn’t provide the same coverage as other structures do, which means it won’t be the best option for some applications.
– Wind resistance: while cone-shaped structures can be designed to be wind-resistant, their geometry causes them to experience higher wind loads, which means that they should be limited in areas with high winds.
– Maintenance: this type of structure may require more maintenance than other types, as the fabric can be more susceptible to wear and tear over time (especially due to winds).
2. Hyperbolic paraboloid structures
Also known as saddle-shaped structures, hyperbolic paraboloid structures consist of two or more intersecting parabolic shapes, combined to create a three-dimensional structure.
As opposed to cone-shaped tensile structures, they are not limited by size, which makes them the perfect option for larger installations such as football stadiums and exhibition centers.
– Strength: as opposed to cone-shaped structures, saddle-shaped structures have better strength and stability, which makes them ideal for larger and more complex projects.
– Wind resistance: if you need a structure with excellent wind resistance, especially in areas with high winds, hyperbolic tensile fabric structures can be a great option.
– Flexibility: Hyperbolic paraboloid structures can be used for a variety of applications, from shading to temporary shelters.
– Aesthetics: their unique shape provides an eye-catching and aesthetic appearance that adds a modern touch to the outdoor space, providing better experience for people.
– Complexity: due to their complex geometry, saddle-shaped structures can be more costly to manufacture and install than cone-shaped structures.
– Cost: this complexity can be translated to higher costs compared with other types of tensile fabric structures. However, this is not always the case – with SD Sails, you can get an adequate quote that adapts to your budget and needs.
– Limited size: hyperbolic paraboloid structures can be limited in size due to their design. While they are a good option for large projects, these size limitations can make them unsuitable for very large projects.
– Maintenance: the fabric used in the structure may require more maintenance than other materials due to its exposure to environmental elements such as rain and snow.
3. Barrel-vault structures
Speaking of types of tensile fabric structures, next on our list are barrel-vault structures. They consist of a single fabric panel that is tensioned between two or more support points, creating an eye-drawing curved shape.
They are commonly used in architectural design, storage facilities, warehouses and more. Here are some of their biggest advantages and disadvantages:
– Strength: if you are looking for a good option for larger projects, barrel-vault structures provide excellent strength and stability due to their geometric shape.
– Versatility: as we mentioned earlier, this type of tensile fabric structures has a wide range of applications, from architectural design to sports facilities and even agricultural buildings.
– Natural lighting: the translucent fabric material used in the structure allows natural light to penetrate the space, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.
– Cost-effective: barrel-vault tensile fabric structures are significantly more cost-effective than traditional construction methods, which makes you save time and money.
– Maintenance: the tensile fabrics used in the structure require more maintenance, such as regular clean-up of debris and dirt to reduce long-term damage.
– Complexity: as opposed to other types of tensile fabric structures, the complex geometry of this one can make it more difficult and costly to design, fabricate, and install.
– Limited size: due to the inherent curvature of the design, this type of tensile fabric structures may cause limitations in size, especially if the large project requires a flat roof.
4. Tensile membrane structures
Tensile membrane structures are characterised with their flexibility, durability, as well as the high-strength, but lightweight materials of which they are made. They are most commonly made from PVC-coated polyester or PTFE-coated fiberglass, and a tensile membrane.
The membrane is tensioned over a lightweight structural frame to create a curved, vaulted, or angled shape, making them a perfect option for outdoor shading of patios, pools and playgrounds.
– Lightweight: compared with other types of tensile fabric structures, tensile membrane structures are lightweight and require less material, which helps to cut down costs.
– Aesthetically pleasing: due to their versatility and flexibility in design (shape, material, colours), tensile structures can help you create aesthetically pleasing outdoor spaces.
– Flexibility: tensile membrane fabric structures can be designed in a variety of shapes and sizes (whether regular or irregular), providing flexibility in design and function.
– Durability: tensile membrane fabric structures are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, such as high winds, heavy snow loads, and extreme temperatures.
– Maintenance: to ensure the longevity of the structure, it is important to do regular cleaning and inspection, as they can wear and tear over time.
– Limited lifespan: the fabric material used in tensile membrane fabric structures may have a limited lifespan compared to traditional building materials. However, this lifespan will depend on the manufacturer – for example, SD Sails offers tensile canopy fabrics with a warranty of up to 15 years.
– Wind resistance: tensile membrane fabric structures may be less wind-resistant than traditional constructions. However, manufacturers like SD Sails offer options that can resist even the harshest weather conditions.
5. Pneumatic structures
Last on our list of types of tensile fabric structures are pneumatic structures. They use air pressure to support the fabric, creating a lightweight and flexible structure that can be quickly inflated and deflated.
They have multiple applications, from covers for indoor and outdoor sports facilities to temporary structures, warehouses, and storage facilities.
– Fast installation: pneumatic tensile fabric structures can be quickly inflated and deflated, making them ideal for temporary structures that need to be set up and taken down quickly.
– Flexible design: similarly to other types of tensile fabric structures we mentioned before, pneumatic structures can be manufactured in different shapes, sizes, colours and fabric, providing great flexibility.
– Energy efficiency: this type of fabric structure requires less energy for heating and cooling than traditional buildings, as the fabric material provides insulation.
– Cost-effective: compared with traditional structures, pneumatic ones can be more effective, especially for temporary or semi-permanent structures.
– Maintenance: just like tensile fabric structures, pneumatic ones require regular cleaning and inspection to ensure maximum longevity of the structure.
– Wind resistance: they are generally less wind-resistant than traditional buildings, which can be a concern in areas with high winds or severe weather.
– Noise: pneumatic tensile fabric structures can be noisy, as the fans used to inflate and maintain air pressure in the structure can create a constant hum.
– Vulnerable to punctures: the fabric material used in pneumatic tensile fabric structures is vulnerable to punctures, which can cause leaks and require repairs.
FAQ – Types of Tensile Fabric Structures
What are the benefits of tensile fabric structures?
Tensile fabric structures are a great shading solution for your outdoor area due to the multiple benefits that they provide: flexibility in design as they can be manufactured in different shapes, colours and sizes; durability, fast installation, low maintenance and lightweight materials.
What is the lifespan of a tensile fabric structure?
The lifespan of a tensile fabric structure depends on multiple factors, including the quality of the materials used, the type and design of the structure, as well as the amount of maintenance required (and received). With proper maintenance and care, a high-quality tensile fabric structure can last up to 15 years or more.
Which is the best type of tensile fabric structure for me?
To choose the best type of tensile fabric structure for your outdoor area, it is recommended to speak with a professional who will be able to consult you and find the best solution that fits your projects, needs, and budget. Contact SD Sails today.