Air-Ten Module


The Air-Ten Module is a pavilion-scale prototype that validated inflatable tensegrity structures are not only physically possible at large scale, but also able to "self-assemble” by inflating their compression struts. Though highly experimental, the imagined applications of such structures in aggregate include disaster relief structures, floating ocean trash collectors, drone infrastructure, planetary rovers, and solar-powered satellites.

Link to the full paper “Self-Deploying Tensegrity Structures with Inflatable Struts” (IASS 2019)
Link to the full paper “Deployable Tensegrity Structures using Pneumatic Compression Members” (S-Arch 2019)

Lightweight Pavilion Structure
Barcelona, Spain and Manhattan, Kansas - 2019

Michael Koliner, Vinay Teja Meda, and Jim Case

IASS 2019 Pavilion - Photographed at Kansas State Univerity; Exhibited October 2019 in Barcelona, Spain
Photo by JDO

The research leading to this inflatable tensegrity structure has been centered around developing material schemas for high-performance air-struts. As the tensegrity structure is loaded, the inflated compression struts tend to deform and buckle. Our investigation has been focused on developing strategies for buckling resistance in these low-pressure struts. The inflated portion of the strut serves put a series of steel cables in tension, which provide the member with its stiffness. Through several phases of physical prototyping, we have developed several material schemas of inflatable air struts for small-scale tensegrity structures (up to 2 cubic meters) using widely available materials such as polymeric tubing, PVC pipe caps and steel cables. As this work is on-going, our team is currently developing our next experiments will lead to strategy we are proposing for the exhibition.

The proposed pavilion seeks to extend the concept of inflatable tensegrity structures by physically demonstrating it at large scale - within the spatial limits of the exhibition guidelines of 4m x 4m x 4m. The structure will demonstrate how combining the advantages of tensegrity and pneumatic structures results in a minimum weight structure that maximizes its global volume change before and after it is deployed. The design is intentionally simple: a 4-strut tensegrity geometry is used as the base form of the pavilion to demonstrate the precision of the system and the effectiveness of the low-pressure cable-stabilized struts. Whereas our previous prototypes used relatively weak plastic tubing, the struts used for the pavilion will be made of much stiffer (though still semi-transparent) membrane material. The tension cable scheme will also incorporate new strategies based on insight we gathered from recent analysis and laboratory testing. The pavilion will have integrated lighting and air-control systems in the actuating end caps of the struts; authoring them with different lighting schemes. Our submitted paper will discuss the pavilion and the numerous scale prototypes that precede it, present testing results and analytical strategies for the struts, and speculate on the range of applications for this technology.

Compression Strut with Tension Cable System - December 2018

4-Strut Prototype: October 2018

3-Strut Prototype: September 2018

Proof of Concept Prototype: August 2018

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all work by Jonathan Dessi-Olive unless otherwise noted.  © 2019 all rights reserved.