Abstract

Elastic gridshell is a class of net-like structure formed by an ensemble of elastically deforming rods coupled through joints, such that the structure can cover large areas with low self-weight and allow for a variety of aesthetic configurations. Gridshells, also known as X-shells or Cosserat Nets, are a planar grid of elastic rods in its undeformed configuration. The end points of the rods are constrained and positioned on a closed curve—the final boundary—to actuate the structure into a 3D shape. Here, we report a discrete differential geometry-based numerical framework to study the geometrically nonlinear deformation of gridshell structures, accounting for non-trivial bending-twisting coupling at the joints. The form-finding problem of obtaining the undeformed planar configuration given the target convex 3D topology is then investigated. For the forward (2D to 3D) physically based simulation, we decompose the gridshell structure into multiple one-dimensional elastic rods and simulate their deformation by the well-established discrete elastic rods (DER) algorithm. A simple penalty energy between rods and linkages is used to simulate the coupling between two rods at the joints. For the inverse problem associated with form-finding (3D to 2D), we introduce a contact-based algorithm between the elastic gridshell and a rigid 3D surface, where the rigid surface describes the target shape of the gridshell upon actuation. This technique removes the need of several forward simulations associated with conventional optimization algorithms and provides a direct solution to the inverse problem. Several examples—hemispherical cap, paraboloid, and hemi-ellipsoid—are used to show the effectiveness of the inverse design process.

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