TOOL TO CHECK TOPOLOGY AND GEOMETRY FOR SPATIAL STRUCTURES ON BASIS OF THE EXTENDED MAXWELL'S RULE
One of the simplest principle in the design of light-weight structures is to avoid bending. This can be achieved by dissolving girders into members acting purely in axial tension or compression. The employment of cables for the tensioned members leads to even lighter structures which are called cable-strut structures. They constitute a subclass of spatial structures. To give fast information about the general feasibility of an architectural concept employing cable-strut structures is a challenging task due to their sophisticated mechanical behavior. In this regard it is essential to control if the structure is stable and if pre-stress can be applied. This paper presents a tool using the spreadsheet software Microsoft (MS) Excel which can give such information. Therefore it is not necessary to purchase special software and the according time consuming training is much lower. The tool was developed on basis of the extended Maxwell's rule, which besides topology also considers the geometry of the structure. For this the rank of the node equilibrium matrix is crucial. Significance and determination of the rank and the implementation of the corresponding algorithms in MS Excel are described in the following. The presented tool is able to support the structural designer in an early stage of the project in finding a feasible architectural concept for cable-strut structures. As examples for the application of the software tool two special cable-strut structures, so called tensegrity structures, were examined for their mechanical behavior.