CETIM Completes Eiffel Tower Simulation

Nancy Anderson
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When the Eiffel tower opened to the public in 1889, many said that the structure was unsound, and would never be able to bear its own weight, let alone remain safely in operation for over a hundred years. In this day and age, modern marvels are regularly constructed, but not without high-powered computer simulation early in the planning and design stages.

Now, a team from France’s Technical Center for Mechanical Industries have modeled the more-than 18,000 pieces of “puddle iron” that compose its structure. Adding in the modern loads (the restaurants that have been added, the radio transmission arrays it currently houses), and subjecting the simulation to massive weather events have so far left the su-tower reasonably unscathed. Yes, it will deflect, but the model shows no critical structural damage.

Much of the trouble of designing a simulation for the tower comes from the relatively unknown properties of the material from which it was constructed. Puddle iron, as it’s known, was hot-formed, folded, hand-wrought iron, and composes all of the original structural members, including the cross-members and rivets. It does not behave like modern construction materials, and the material properties needed to be determined before they could be input into the computer model.

The researchers noted that the Eiffel tower is likely to be around for the next two- or three-hundred years, so you’ve got plenty of time to make travel arrangements and ensure your passport is in order.

Eiffel Tower photo originally appeared at Wikitravel.org and is reused here under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.

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