The Force Cone Method: A New Thinking Tool for Lightweight Structures

The Force Cone Method: A New Thinking Tool for Lightweight Structures

C. Mattheck S. Haller 

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

30 June 2013
| Citation



The force cone method developed by Claus Mattheck enables computer-free topology designing and offers a profound knowledge for lightweight structures. Thus, the recently developed method enhances the series of the so-called thinking tools. The method’s basic idea is the force distribution of a single force in an elastic plane. The symmetrically placed cones appear in front of the force and behind it. These cones intersect with 90° angles at primary points that quickly lead to a structural design proposal. Furthermore, the method is very useful for the evaluation of structures and their lightweight potential. With the knowledge of the load case, it is easy to identify the main tension and compression paths leading to a deeper understanding of lightweight results. Natural structures such as trees can also be understood in another way, highlighting the structural principles at the root, leaf, treetop or even the entire tree. Nowadays, technical lightweight solutions can be found with different methods, including the soft kill option developed at the KIT 20 years ago. The method resembles that of the biological mineralization process of living bone and results in structures that can be seen as optimized lightweight design proposals. The comparisons of those structures with the state-of-the-art designs used in the industry and with those found by the force cone method indicate the high potential of the new method. For the confi rmation of the basic rules and principles, different assembly positions of force and supports as well as different types of supports, such as fi xed supports or torsion anchors, have been analyzed.


 Force cone method, lightweight structure, topology design


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