Engineered Fabric Structures

What is an Engineered Fabric Structure?

An engineered fabric structure is a membrane structure designed to meet specific wind and snow loads, typically required by local or international building code (IBC) for safety. The basic components of an engineered fabric structure consist of an architectural membrane tensioned over a high-strength frame system.

Engineered fabric structures are unique in that they have the durability and strength of traditional buildings, with the added benefit of being highly portable building solutions that can be quickly installed and either left in place for extended periods of time as permanent buildings or easily taken down and relocated as needed. These advantages are changing the way many industries approach and manage their on-site building and remote camp needs. 

In addition to offering rapidly deployable and modular solutions, engineered fabric buildings from Alaska Structures® are custom-designed to meet a client’s unique requirements. As the world’s leading supplier of engineered fabric structures, our in-house engineers and design teams will work with you to design a long-lasting and ruggedly durable building solution.

If you would like more information about our engineered fabric structures or to receive a quote, please email us or use our online contact form

[Related: Engineered Fabric Building Applications: How to Use Fabric Buildings]

The Technology of Engineered Fabric Structures

Our engineered fabric structures are a great solution for creating modular buildings and workforce camps that offer a greater degree of versatility and durability and are manufactured with the highest-quality materials to create custom-built structures that outlast and outperform other (nonengineered) prefabricated building systems.

[Related: Advantages of Fabric Buildings Over Traditional Structures]

High-Strength Frame Systems for Engineered Fabric Buildings

Alaska Structures’ fabric building being used as a workshop.
Alaska Structures’ fabric building being used as a workshop.

Depending on the application and engineering necessary to meet the area-specific wind and snow loads, the high-strength frame systems of our engineered fabric buildings can be made using the following:

  • Lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Galvanized steel
  • Fiberglass

Our lightweight aluminum frames are perfectly suited for highly portable applications such as quick-erect shelters for modular housing, mobile offices, field kitchens, and equipment storage facilities

Alaska Structures' high-strength galvanized steel frames are ideal for large fabric buildings designed to create instant structures for on-site warehousing, aircraft hangars, maintenance facilities, workshops, and dining facilities for large mining, oil and gas, and construction camps.

For operations needing to store or operate sensitive electronic equipment, like a weatherproof structure over a radar antenna or a radar dish enclosure, our fabric buildings can be equipped with fiberglass frame systems. Fiberglass frame systems are a superior alternative to air-supported structures and domes, providing a rigid and weatherproof structure that doesn’t require the continuous operation of blowers to remain inflated.  

Alaska Structures offers two frame types based on the size and specified wind and snow loads in your area. Single-arch buildings are available up to 30’ wide and are generally used for applications that require a small building solution such as one- or two-person sleeper shelters, modular housing for workforce camps, core storage facilities, or on-site laboratories and research facilities for remote projects. 

Large building applications, typically 30' to 150' wide, will employ a high-strength double truss design and are used for on-site warehouses, workshops, maintenance and repair facilities, and indoor sports facilities.

[Related: The Benefits of Engineered Fabric Structures for Extreme Weather Research Facilities]

Long-Lasting Tensioned Fabric Membranes

 Alaska Structures’ fabric building serving as a cement storage facility.
Alaska Structures’ fabric building serving as a cement storage facility.

Alaska Structures uses a proprietary blend and manufacturing process to create tensioned fabric membranes able to withstand prolonged use in extreme hot, cold, and humid environments

Compared to the polyvinyl- or polyethylene-based fabric membranes that other companies use, our architectural membranes offer greater abrasion resistance, will not rot, are resistant to mold and mildew, are UV-stabilized (not coated) for prolonged exposure to high solar loads, and can meet the fire safety requirements outlined in the California Code of Regulations for membrane structures. 

Engineered Fabric Buildings for Any Level Surface

Unlike most other “instant” fabric structures that require extensive site preparation and concrete foundations, engineered fabric buildings from Alaska Structures can be designed for installation on virtually any level surface. Our high-performance fabric buildings can be securely anchored to any surface type, including dirt, sand, gravel, asphalt, as well as wood and concrete foundations. Our fabric buildings can be placed on top of shipping containers or anchored using ecology blocks. 

With minimal foundation requirements, our engineered fabric buildings do not require extensive site preparation, reducing labor and preconstruction site work needed to install a fabric building system from Alaska Structures. 

[Related: Foundation Options for Fabric Buildings]

Powder Coating for Metal Frame Systems

Alaska Structures offers in-house powder coating to increase the corrosion resistance of our high-strength metal frame systems.  Having this in-house capability cuts down on the production time and allows us to maintain the highest-quality powder coating finishes for long-lasting durability against rust, oxidation, and other environmental factors.

Our powder coating process is recommended for fabric building installations near coastal areas with sea spray and salt air, for storing chemicals, and for use in humid climates. 

Securely Anchoring Fabric Buildings

Alaska Structures offers many field-tested anchoring options that adhere to our rigorous safety standards. Our most popular anchoring options include:

  • Ground spikes and/or duckbill earth anchors are popular options for anchoring directly into the ground.
  • Lag bolts are used to quickly and easily secure any of our modular buildings to a wood foundation or platform.
  • Concrete wedge or drop-in anchors are used to secure your fabric building to concrete foundations or footings.

If your project requires a tension structure to be anchored on top of shipping containers or skids, you can easily bolt or weld the high-strength metal frames of our engineered fabric structures to the supporting structure. We’ve also created a rail-based rolling system for operations requiring an expandable fabric structure using the GTX Series of gable truss buildings.

[Related: Foundation Options for Fabric Buildings]

SuperLayer insulation for fabric covered structures - 3D rendering.
The Alaska SuperLayer® Insulation System

Energy-Efficient Insulation Systems for Fabric Buildings

Alaska Structures’ fabric buildings being used at a remote mining camp.
Alaska Structures’ fabric buildings being used at a remote mining camp.

Any engineered fabric building from Alaska Structures can be equipped with one of our many proprietary insulation systems. 

Aligning with our integrated systems approach, our energy-saving insulation systems are quickly installed to increase interior comfort in areas with extreme hot and cold temperatures. Our insulation systems are available to any R-value and capable of producing the same level of comfort using a lower volume of material than traditional fiberglass products.

[Related: How Do You Insulate a Fabric Building?]

Plug-and-Play Electrical Systems for Fabric Structures

The “plug-and-play” design of our lighting and electrical packages cuts down on the amount of time and manpower required for installation. 

For remote camps or on-site support buildings used at remote mine sites, a certified electrician might not be available within several hundred miles. Having to wait for an electrician to arrive is not only a timely but also a costly hold-up. This is why we design our electrical and lighting systems to be installed by general or unskilled personnel.* 

Our prebuilt lighting and electrical systems are designed for quick and easy installation, and feature high-quality materials and components that meet National Electrical Code standards for use as temporary installations. Our lighting and electrical system are available in 50 and 60 Hz configurations.

*A certified electrician may be required to connect the electrical distribution panel to shore power or local power utility. Please check with your local or state requirements.

[Related: Things to Consider Before Buying a Tension Fabric Building]

Learn More about Engineered Fabric Structures

To learn more about Alaska Structures, our engineered fabric structures, or the industry-leading technology and engineering that goes into every one of our modular building systems, contact us by sending us an email or completing our online contact form.