ThinKing June 2020: The lightweight LED mesh



Lightweight, wind-permeable, stainless-steel cable mesh with LED dots makes it possible to create light installations in urban settings using resource-saving supporting structures.

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With a clever combination of two three-dimensionally deformable and particularly lightweight construction elements, German specialist company Carl Stahl ARC GmbH has opened up new fields of creative applications in architecture and construction planning.

The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Württemberg presents this innovation in its June 2020 edition of ThinKing. Under this label, Leichtbau BW GmbH provides a platform every month for new innovative lightweighting products or services from Baden-Württemberg.

At a glance:
- Lightweight: Due to its spatial design, the mesh has a low net weight and high net tension, allowing for flexible creations using only a few support elements.
- Transparent and wind-permeable: Minimised supporting structures due to low wind loads.
- Low-maintenance and weatherproof: There are many advantages to the combination of 50,000 operating hours of the LEDs and stainless steel as a material.

LED curtain ceilings, multimedia projection surfaces or media facades are not only beautiful to look at. They are also used for concrete purposes, such as security, lighting or as an information medium. However, such installations are often heavy in weight, and because of their large surface area, they require a massive supporting structure to compensate for the wind load. The lighter and more wind permeable the illuminated elements are, the less force the supporting structures will have to withstand.

German specialist company Carl Stahl ARC GmbH has developed a particularly lightweight and three-dimensionally flexible solution. The developers combined a light module system (X-LED) with stainless-steel cable mesh that has a large span width and high load-bearing capacity (X-Tend). The result is “X-LED MESH”, which can be used as a safety feature as well as a design feature.

High tensile strength and low wind load
Compared to other support systems, the stainless-steel mesh has a particularly low net weight. It ranges from 0.36 to 5.2 kg per sq.m, depending on mesh width. The tighter the meshes, the heavier the net. The high net tension of the stainless-steel mesh makes it a load-bearing structure that can cover even large spans without intermediate support. At 2,000 N per, the tensile strength of the cables is approximately four times greater than that of steel profiles. Thanks to all of these properties, the (LED) mesh requires merely a small number of brackets for support.

Because of the transparent structure of the mesh, there is only a small surface area on which the wind can exert force. Wind loads are minimised, meaning that the supporting structure has to withstand less force, and can therefore be constructed in a manner which is resource-efficient. With suitable substructures, the mesh can even be used to form three-dimensional sculptures.

Lightweight solution for creative planning
Thanks to the filigree design of the brackets, the LED system itself is also light in weight. With the aid of various attachments, it can be installed on the stainless-steel mesh either permanently or in a variety of flexible ways. The lighting system is modular, meaning its size can be individually adapted to the supporting stainless-steel mesh. It is easy to install and, with an estimated 50,000 operating hours, requires very little maintenance. The high-performance LED dots provide a luminous intensity of up to 42 cd. At only 1 W per dot, the video-compatible LED mesh is also low in energy consumption.

The combination of the LED dots with 16.5 million possible colours, and the three-dimensional formability, low weight and high tensile strength of the mesh, opens up new fields of creative applications in architecture and construction planning.

About Carl Stahl ARC GmbH
Railing infills and fall protection, green facades, LED light installations and complex zoo enclosures: With more than 25 years of experience, Carl Stahl Architektur creates impressive architectural projects using stainless-steel cables and mesh. The company’s service portfolio ranges from consulting, planning and structural analysis to manufacture and assembly.