One of the more difficult problems a designer is faced with is visualizing what characteristics a particular piece of material, presented as a small hand sample, will exhibit when used at real-world dimensions. Especially difficult are the attributes of stiffness and pliability. Simple math and classic beam theory can be a big help.

The top is a cantilevered straightedge and two scaled fabrics, one made with a 0.20" diameter wire, the other with a 0.10" diameter wire.


Doubling the span (length) decreases stiffness by a factor of 8. The need for stiffening members should be addressed early in the design phase.

The Rectangular Moment of Inertia of a round wire is proportional to the diameter raised to the fourth power. Doubling wire diameter increases stiffness by a factor of sixteen.