Topology optimization of tension-only cable nets under finite deformations

Emily D. Sanders, Adeildo S. Ramos, Glaucio H. Paulino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Structures containing tension-only members, i.e., cables, are widely used in engineered structures (e.g., suspension and cable-stayed bridges, tents, and bicycle wheels) and are also found in nature (e.g., spider webs). We seek to use the ground structure method to obtain optimal cable network configurations. The structures are modeled using principles of nonlinear elasticity that allow for large displacements, i.e., global configuration changes, and large deformations. The material is characterized by a hyperelastic constitutive relation in which the strain energy is nonzero only when the axial stretch of a member is greater than or equal to one (i.e., tension-only behavior). We maximize the stationary potential energy of the equilibrated system, which avoids the need for an additional adjoint equation in computing the derivatives needed for the solution of the optimization problem. Several examples demonstrate the capabilities of the proposed formulation for topology optimization of cable networks. Motivated by nature, a spider web–inspired cable net is designed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-579
Number of pages21
JournalStructural and Multidisciplinary Optimization
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Control and Optimization
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • Finite deformations
  • Ground structure method
  • Tension-only cable nets
  • Topology optimization


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