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Vitroplena

or free translated from Latin: 'completely out of glass' is a consultancy office specialised in expertise, design, engineering and realisation of architectural glass applications. Vitroplena was founded as a Ghent University spin-off by dr. ir. Kenny Martens, after receiving a Ph.D. for his work on structural glass beam systems. Vitroplena is a dynamic, flexible and thrustworthy consultancy office that realizes, through innovation, a strong material knowledge and significant calculation skills, tomorrow's structures.

Structural glass beam system

Vitroplena has developed an innovative, currently patented, glass beam system that allows the construction of large-scale glass supporting systems for floors, roofs, façades etc. The system was developed focusing on structural safety and robustness, while maximising transparency and beam continuity. The beam system is typically composed of prefab beam modules which are connected on site through an innovative connection methodology. 

 

A transparent office floor

The glass beam system was first presented as one of the winning business cases on Techboost 2017, an event organised by the faculty of engineering and architecture of Ghent University. A mock-up of a transparent office floor, carried by the beam system, was presented and extensively tested by the amazed public. It is currently exhibited at the first floor of the department of structural engineering at Ghent University. On the picture you see the mock-up tested by Kenny Martens (center), his two promotors: prof. Jan Belis (left) and prof. Robby Caspeele (center-right), and two colleagues: Bert Van Lancker (center-left) and Wouter Botte (right). 

 

Advanced numerical simulations for optimal design

Vitroplena supports the design of glazed structures by means of high-level and deep numerical analyses in which the material behaviour is maximally approximated. Our specialty is the innovative modelling of glass fracture, which can be used to evaluate the post-fracture behaviour - and hence the (structural) safety - of elements (partly) composed of glass. The movie at the left presents the fracture and deformation behaviour of a glass beam with two spans, loaded in vertical direction. While the load is increasing in time, the glass fractures (in red) expand and the deformation increases.

This simulation presents the numerical model of the above-mentioned developed glass beam system. The model is used to validate the capacity of the system and for further finetuning of its design. It perfectly illustrates the satisfying behaviour and significant safety of the developed glass beam system:

The occurrence of glass fractures does not lead to the collapse of the structure. The system maintains its load-carrying function and the load can increase even further!