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Tensile Fabric Structure: Getting The Basics Right

By Author: Tensile Structure
Total Articles: 18

Tensile fabric structures are a rage these days and why not? Being light, aesthetically sound, cheap and easy to install and maintain, its invention, whoever did it, has been a revelation. But there’s a lot we don’t know about it and then there are myths and misinformation/s. In this article we will try to clear some of these concerns.
The what and why of Tension and Tensile fabrics
To begin with, tension is a force that acts on a body and tries to pull it apart and by this extension Tensile Structure is those fabrics which are being pulled apart. It basically involves supporting a ‘’tarpaulin’’ made of polymers or other possible materials at critical junctures to give it a particular shape which, depending on the direction of curvature, can be either anticlastic or synclastic.
As for why tensile fabrics? It has become pretty clear that since they are durable and stretchable, tensile fabrics are always worth the money you invest. Furthermore their translucency allows for light to pass through them giving a unique aesthetics, particularly during night.
The building blocks
As for the building blocks of these fabrics i.e. the materials that can be used, they vary with location, cost and durability. Generally, the materials used include polymers like –
• Ethylene tetra fluoro ethylene – due to its exceptional translucency, self-cleaning ability and abhorrence to pollutants and UV rays.
• Fiber glass coated Teflon – thanks to its high tensile strength, elasticity, resilience to extreme weather conditions and respectable light transmitting property.
• PVC or PVDF coated polyester – easy to handle, they could be used both as acrylic in case coloring is required but its durability and self-cleansing leaves a lot to be desired and as PVDF coating in case self-cleaning is the objective.
Cost dependency and sustainability of tensile fabric structures
Regarding the cost, it’s rather obvious that it will depend on –
i. Location as this determines the availability and sourcing.
ii. Design and span – the structures which have more corners and edges and a shorter span usually drives the cost up. On the contrary a large span with minimum corners is generally economical.
iii. Weather conditions like wind speed and direction, rainfall intensity and concentration, etc.
iv. Special characteristics like exceptional self-cleaning ability, translucency, durability, elasticity, strength etc.
As regards to the sustainability of tensile fabric structures, the materials used can be easily recycled to be used in applications where quality can be compromised a bit. As such, depending on the degree of recyclability and reuse, the sustainability of structures, both environmental and economical, can vary immensely.

Busting the myths
There are a lot of misunderstandings regarding tensile fabrics partly due to the materials used in its making and partly due to ignorance about its advantages. Here we will try to clear the air around some of the most prominent myths regarding tensile fabric structures.
i. Since its just ‘tarpaulin’, it will easily catch fire: Unless a flame is directly applied to it, it won’t burn and same is true for every structure.
ii. It’s so light in weight; the wind might blow it away: The anchorage and tension provides them with exceptional strength. The lightweight is an advantage.
iii. It will tear apart if stretched a lot: Well, anything will tear apart ‘if stretched a lot’ but compared to others, tensile fabric structures are more tolerant to ‘’pull’’.
iv. How can a simple stretched plastic last long?: It’s simply not true. The tensile fabric structures are not made from normal plastics but from special polymers designed for durability.
So don’t mind the misinformation, read the advantage and go for tensile fabric structures. They are the way forward.
BKF is a company which deals with manufacture and supply of polycarbonate, prefabricated and tensile fabric structures for different structures like car parking Tensile Structure, walkway Tensile Structure, sun sheds, canopies etc. Visit their website at http://www.tensilefabricstructure.com to know more about it and its products.

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