The Center for Synergetic Structures strives for new sustainable lightweight structures by taking advantage of the synergies between materials and structures. Our key competences are prototype building, investigation of materials, testing of full scale structures as well as analytical and numerical modelling. The Center is instrumented with a number of high-end test facilities such as a biaxial test rig and a 3D image correlation system. Founded in 2006 as a public private partnership between Empa and Festo, the main focus of the Center is in the R&D of Tensairity® and pneumatic structures. Our highly skilled interdisciplinary team supports clients from industry and academia in the development of innovative solutions ranging from architecture to aviation.
Tensairity® – light, strong and adaptive
Tensairity® - structures are a synergetic combination of an airbeam with conventional tension elements (cables) and compression elements (struts). The new structural concept has interesting properties such as minimal weight for a high load bearing capacity, compact transport volume, fast set up and dismantling, a new architectural design, fascinating lightning options as well as being adaptive. First applications including the roof of a parking garage in Montreux, Switzerland, a bridge for skiers with over 50 m span in the French alps or a mobile advertisement pillar with 20 m height have demonstrated the potential and safety of the technology. The Center for Synergetic Structures does pioneer work in the R&D of Tensairity®.
Kite power – harvesting wind energy with tethered wings
The potential of wind energy is immense and the market is steadily growing. However, today’s wind mills cannot access the wind power at higher altitudes where the wind speed and the power densities are much higher. New concepts intend to open up this vast energy source by using kites. Electricity is produced either in a pumping cycle mode through a generator at the ground or by having small windmills installed at the kite. The Center for Synergetic Structures develops tethered wings dedicated to airborne wind energy based on the Tensairity® technology.
Biomimetics – inspiration from nature
Nature has developed in billions of years of evolution highly sophisticated solutions for a wide range of problems and has inspired engineers such as Leonardo da Vinci for the development of his ingenious machines. Biomimetics strives to transfer solutions of nature into technical products in a systematic way. In collaboration with biologists, the Center for Synergetic Structures develops self-repairing materials for pneumatic structures
Materials testing – when direction matters
Woven textiles as used in fabric structures, Tensairity® or in pneumatic structures have a highly anisotropic material behaviour. The weaving introduces couplings between the yarn directions which strongly influence the mechanical behaviour. Reliable material parameters for numerical simulations can only be obtained by careful testing of the fabric. The Center for Synergetic Structures has a biaxial testing machine which is unique in Switzerland.