Tensegrity Unit - Structure and Method for Construction

Background Structures are needed in remote locations to shelter personnel and equipment, as in times of war or emergency. Structures are also needed for traveling exhibits and general usage. Permanent traditional structures are not an option when tools and manpower are at a minimum.

Invention Description A tensegrity unit may be formed of compression members (bars) and tension members (cables). In a deployed state, the tensegrity unit may be coupled to other tensegrity units to form a tensegrity structure. In a non-deployed state, the compression members may be easily positioned in a compact bundle. In the non-deployed state, the tension members may remain coupled to compression members and/or to brackets so that there are no loose tension member ends that may become tangled.


Easily transported, erected, collapsed, and stored without special skills and without the need for specialized tools or heavy construction equipment. The tensegrity units may be transformed from a collapsed state to a deployed state with minimal manual effort and time. Tensegrity units may be sturdy, durable, lightweight, simple, safe, inexpensive, efficient, versatile, ecologically compatible, energy conserving, and reliable.


Tensegrity units come in various configurations from spherical to cylindrical to double curvature. A number of tensegrity units may be joined to form a tensegrity structure or tensegrity network. Tensegrity structures possess a high level of structural redundancy which may inhibit collapse if one or several units should fail. Each tensegrity unit is a single component.

Market Potential/Applications While well suited for permanent structures, the portability and rapid deployment applications apply to mobile military structures, field hospitals, space applications, temporary storage, recreational tents, traveling exhibits, fairs, and theatres. Market potential for recreational tents alone is $337 million according to Columbia Sportswear and NorthPole LLC. (Source: The Business Journal, 8/7/2003, http://portland.bizjournals.com/portland/ stories/2003/08/04/daily39.html) Southern Tier Defense Spending Bill for FY2003 included $4 million for Modular General Purpose Tent Systems. (Source: U.S. Rep. M. Hinchey, June 2002, http://www.house.gov/hinchey/062602defense.htm)

Development Stage Lab/bench prototype

IP Status One U.S. copyrights registered

UT Researcher Katherine A. Liapi, Ph.D., Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Type of Offer: Licensing

« More Engineering Patents

Share on      

CrowdSell Your Patent