Frequently Asked Questions

Cost & Application

How costly are Triodetic spaceframe structures?
What is the difference between Triodetic's Architectural roofs, Stockpile Enclosures, Displays, & Specialty Structures?

Our objective is always to satisfy all the project requirements at lowest cost. Every architectural structure is custom designed & the variety of structure shapes, materials & site conditions will affect price. Triodetic is respected for providing reliable installed structure estimates & our responsive, free preliminary space frame design service. Our competitiveness is best illustrated by our long & successful history and through every project won against local steel fabricators and modular frame systems in each location around the world. E-Mail or Fax your preliminary requirements & we will quickly respond with a priced proposal & construction program.

In architectural applications, aesthetic demands require greater attention to finish & often the structure shape & cladding/glazing system will be chosen for good appearance through the life of the building. These spaceframe structures can be of any shape or size & are typically used for building roofs, glass walls & entrance canopies.

Industrial Tanks & stockpile enclosures are typically spaceframe domes, barrel vault or toroid structures supplied in galvanized steel, (or stainless steel in aggressive environments). The structure shape is determined by functional aspects of the plant & curvature is introduced to minimize cost.

These spaceframe structures typically are designed with long clear column free spans. Display structures utilize a smaller version of the Triodetic joint that is also modified to ease assembly & disassembly. These structures are often smaller in scale & used in interior design at Malls, Casinos, Hotels & Trade Shows as floating ceilings, screen walls, racking & decorative displays.

Specialty Applications include rain-screen cladding, interior phenolic wall paneling, towers, signage, radar platforms, cable bridges, solar supports, golf bridges, foundations, louvers, wind-screens, tensile fabric structures, roof-top features, statues, sporting, recreational & temporary structures.


What is the benefit of building designs with unusual geometry?
Does Curvature increase cost?
Is there any geometry Triodetic cannot produce?

The success of striking architectural building spaceframe designs is reflected in higher market value, rental, tenancy, and visitor attendances. The world's most successful museums are those where the building itself attracts visitors. Noteworthy building designs increase public & industry recognition for the architect. Often a decorative entrance or roof-top canopy or feature achieves a visible improvement to an aging building when a limited budget makes a complete new facade impossible.

Enclosures for ore stockpiles can be designed with less steel & to conform more closely to the pile angle of repose. The structure shape can be designed to minimize horizontal thrust imposed on the foundations. Domes are designed with tension rings to also restrain base horizontal loads. The use of double curvature can allow some structures to be designed as single layer shells which offer higher cost-effectiveness.

Curvature in structural design often reduces member stress, structure mass & costs. A dome shaped building roof requires 1/3 the structure mass versus a pyramid or pitched roof. A barrel vault requires less steel than a flat roof.

Curvature in two directions (e.g. Hypars, toroids, spheres) allows structures to be designed as shells often as a single layer or lattice frame. Lightweight roofs can also be pre-assembled more rapidly at ground level & lifted into final position. Reduced roof weight means supports & foundations can also be reduced. The Triodetic structural system is economical because we can discretely use the optimal member size in every location. Where stresses concentrate we can increase the tube diameter, use thicker wall tube, shorten the module length, or add more tubes or structure layers. This versatility & the precision of our design software always results in minimum structure mass. The Triodetic joint is fully efficient in axial & bending condition and allows superior structural capacity & reliable single layer shell & free-form structures.

There is virtually no limit to the geometrical arrangements that are possible using the Triodetic design software & framing system. Common forms include: Domes, Spheres, Elongated Spheres, Cones, Prisms, Ovaloids, Toroids, Arches, Cylinders, Pyramids, Hypars, Cantilevered, Suspended, Inclined Structures, Multiple Curvatures and Free-form Shapes, Theme/Exhibition/Display structures, Towers, Sails, Stars, Fish, Turtles, etc...


Can Triodetic design structures for Hurricane, Seismic & Snow/Ice loads?
Do Triodetic structures comply with fire codes?
Who will be the Engineer of Record?
What is the failure mode?
Does Triodetic offer environmental advantages?

We have structures in service all around the world, & design in strict accordance with applicable standards in each location. We have many structures providing excellent service in a wide variety of locations including Hurricane regions, Earthquake zones & locations subject to excessive snow & ice loads. Triodetic structures are noncombustible. Sprinklers, drywall barriers or intumescent paints can be used, however additional measures are often not required for framing 26ft or more above floor level.

Triodetic design engineers will stamp the design wherever they are registered. In other locations we engage a locally registered professional engineer & instruct them on the technology & design.

Engineers recognize that every structure in existence, when over-stressed, has at least one critical mode of failure. Triodetic has been designing & building tube structures for over 40 years in all locations & loading situations. Full-scale testing to failure has been performed for Triodetic structures and reliable load limits are adhered to, with prudent safety factors, for all combination of tube/nub dimension and material. Coupled with finite element analysis, an endless variety of structure shapes can be predictably designed for any loading combination.

In space frame & curved structures, over-stress of any single member is resisted by the unused axial & bending capacity in the other connecting members. This inherent redundancy is illustrated in Triodetic structures that afford structural integrity before assembly is complete.

Unlike bolted & welded connections that are not fully efficient & concentrate stress on thin gusset plates, the Triodetic joint is actually stronger than the frame members. In Triodetic structures the tube section dimension at each joint is increased in the plane of maximum bending, and the tight keyway connection in the node effectively eliminate slip to provide increased bending strength with no loss of axial capacity. Rotation about the minor stress plane would require simultaneous failure of all members at the joint, which is physically impossible given that they radiate at different angles, carry different loads and in many cases have different section property. The behavior of steel structures, with high degrees of redundancy, under excess load is to redistribute stress concentrations until equilibrium is restored. Stress will always disperse to the stiffer members. (The comfort of every chair we sit on, or every hammock we relax in, illustrates this principle very well).

Triodetic structures have provided unfailing service under abnormal dead & dynamic loads, hurricane winds, and seismic conditions.

Environmental LEEDS benefits available include:

  • 60-90% Re-cycled raw materials used in production
  • Smart design reduces material consumption (up to 60%)
  • 100% scrap recycling, Non-Polluting & energy efficient fabrication
  • Reduced freight (up to 50%)
  • Reduced project duration, Reduced site hazards, No site painting or welding.
  • Work for local unemployed
  • 100% product re-use


How are curved frames clad or glazed?
How are ceiling applied?
Does Triodetic supply and install cladding & glazing?

Triodetic has been supplying domes & other complex curved building roofs for over 40 years. We have many proven cladding/glazing arrangements are available in galvanized/painted steel, anodized aluminum, stainless steel, copper, glass, polycarbonate, timber, & tensile fabric. We have typical drawings of these arrangements or will develop details appropriate to the constraints at each site. Ceilings are fixed via a conventional purlin system, however often the framing is left exposed as an aesthetic feature & to allow good access to ducting & service lines.

Whenever it is advantageous, Triodetic will supply the complete structure. On some projects where other suppliers are separately contracted, we will act as a "frame-only" sub-contractor.

Durability & Warranties

Does Triodetic offer frame materials & finishes for a variety of service environments?
Is there a problem combining aluminum & steel in some environments?
What Warranty, Insurances & Performance Guarantees are available for Triodetic structures?

Triodetic Framing is available in Galvanized steel, stainless steel, mill finish aluminum or anodized aluminum. Each serves particular service environments. Factory finishes include polyester, powder-coating, chromating, kynar which offer a range of added aesthetics & durability.

The majority of structures are supplied in powder-coated galvanized steel or anodized aluminum for most environments including salt & chlorine atmospheres. Stainless steel is required for highly corrosive conditions e.g. Potash processing.

Triodetic galvanized steel structures incorporate an aluminum connector. Zinc & Aluminum are so close on the electromechanical scale that insufficient potential is available to induce significant corrosion. Laboratory testing, industry codes & decades of in-field structures (incorporating these materials in contact in framing, cladding & fasteners), confirm the compatibility of these metals in almost all environments. In aggressive environments, factory-applied coatings have also extended structure service life in thousands of applications around the world.

Canadian products & suppliers deserve & enjoy an excellent reputation internationally for quality & reliability. Triodetic operates in accordance with ISO Quality Management principles & over the last 40 years it has never experienced design or performance deficiency in its products. We match industry standards by offering a one year warranty on materials & workmanship. Other warranties may be offered when dictated by project or legal requirements. Insurances for Comprehensive General Liability, Automobiles, Injury, Damage, & Umbrella coverages are provided by HUB International, as required by each project.

Triodetic provides performance and payment bonds through Export Development Canada & its underwriter.

Fabrication & Delivery

How long does manufacture & delivery take?
Would it save money or time to manufacture components near the construction site?

In North America, Triodetic material can typically be expected on site 8 weeks after order & drawing approvals. International freight is subject to shipping schedules, but because the product components containerize very compactly, transport difficulties are rarely encountered. Unusual material finishes may be accelerated via pre-payments.

Freight costs are a very small part of the overall cost & our delivery times are often a fraction of alternatives. Our design software & manufacturing equipment is closely linked & purpose-built to ensure product precision is consistently achieved. The result is assembly speed & structural integrity in service. Our operations comply with ISO quality procedures and therefore all materials are procured only from pre-approved suppliers who have demonstrated consistent conformance to our material tolerances & specifications. Local supply of cladding & glazing is contracted when advantageous.

Construction & Insulation

Are special skills & equipment required?
What problems can I expect in difficult sites?
Can Triodetic roofs be built over an operating plant?
How can I accelerate the installation?
How are Triodetic structures insulated?

Triodetic frames are very simple to assemble. Typically unskilled labor, engaged at the construction site, achieve high efficiency using hand tools. All components can typically be lifted by hand, are uniquely identified, & assembly drawings indicate correct location & sequence of construction, and crane-lifting locations. Triodetic has assembly crews available when necessary & experienced supervisors are available to oversee local crews on each project.

Triodetic is advantageous in remote locations, sites with difficult access, poor ground conditions, poor weather or limited availability of skilled labor or equipment. Triodetic structures can be completed as sub-assemblies in place or separate from final position under cover or where site conditions are suitable. Triodetic components pose no hazard on site when containerized, and ground-level assembly minimized work at height or above other site activities.

Triodetic domes are unique in that they can be assembled from the base perimeter towards the apex. Pre-assembled roofs are frequently lifted into final position, sometimes with cladding/glazing installed, with minimal interruption to other activities below.

In many situations, where space permits, increasing crew size can shorten the assembly duration. Good crane accessibility also allows more assembly options which can help to accelerate construction. Triodetic will normally propose the most feasible, expedient & safe assembly plan at the start of each project. Triodetic offers alternative systems designs for both thermal and acoustic insulation that will best apply for each project. Both bat & sprayed insulation products have been used. Some of these arrangements are shown on typical drawings included elsewhere in this website. Where high R-value insulation is required, we increase the cladding/frame separation to provide the required insulation depth.