Inflatable tensioning tube
Innovative tensioning system for textile (second skin) facades,
publicity panels and tensioned ceilings. Buitink Technology
developed a patented innovative system to tension textiles: an
inflatable tensioning tube.
When a cloth is used as as second skin in front of a wall of a
building the biggest limitation is wind load. For sure when the
cloth is placed more than 10-15 cm in front of the facade and above
10-20 m above street level the loads are heavy. In this case single
tensioning of the cloth is not enough, especially for permanent
Existing tensioning systems
These heavy loads can be reduced by giving some elasticity to
the fabric which allows some space for deformation. In reality this
happens by fixing the fabric to springs or by providing it with an
edge that is tensed with an elastic string and eyes.
Those systems have disadvantages and limitations. For example
the elastic strings can be damaged and need to be replaced. A
flexible tensioning tube with spring mechanisme must be changed
even after periodical maintenance to assure permanent flexibility
over a long period of time. The maintenance of tensioning tubes,
springs or cables is in places difficult to reach. In case of
tensioning by springs or cables there always remains space between
the end of the fabric and the attacement points of the cable or
spring. Those elements also remain visible which is not always
desirable. After all (an aluminium) tensioning tube is rigid and
not flexible, and this is why there are situations where it is
difficult to maintain equilibrated charges in the whole fabric.
When a strip of fabric is tensed on the entire facade width, the
wind load that apply to the center of the fabric differ from the
load at the edges. In case of a single or fragmented (aluminium)
tensioning tube it is difficult to properly distribute the forces
in the fabric.
Buitink inflatable tensioning tubes
Buitink Technology developed a new tensioning systenm for above
application: the inflatable tensioning tube.
The fabric is connected to an inflable tube through sealing aor
a cable profile (see figure 2). Pressurizing the tube tensions the
fabric in a flexible way. In case of load on the fabric the tube
acts as a flexible spring (tube becomes oval). Overall applied
tension in the cloth is dependant of the diameter of the tube and
applied pressure in the tube. When the wind load is released the
cloth reveals its original position. The inflatable tubes are
pressurized by a simple air pressure system.
Advantage inflatable tensioning tubes
The inflatable tensioning tube has a number of advantages. The
tubes require no maintenance, only the air compressor system needs
maintenance. More architectural degrees of freedom; the tubes can
be placed invisble from outside (see fiure 3). The tubes can be
place below or above the facade covering. Also the ratio between
diameter, pressure and maximum movement of the cloth can be chosen.
The inflatable tube creates a more even distribution of forces
trooughout the cloth. Controlling the pressure differently in
various tubes enables full control of the distribution of loads on
large size facade coverings. When the cloth is applied in a sliding
curtain system the tubes are simply deflated when sliding is
In summary the advantages:
- Architectural degrees of freedom
- Tensioning of large flat cloth possible
- Hardly any maintenance
- Proper distribution of forces
- Various possible applications
Applications are not limited to facade coverings. Other
applications are: Tensioned ceilings, advertising panels, tent
constructions and even a trampoline is made using this system.
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