4 April 2024

Engineered vs. Non-Engineered Fabric Structures: Why It Matters


The investment in a new engineered structure can add value and function to any location. Most commercial organizations need to compare engineered versus non-engineered fabric structures to determine which fits their needs comprehensively.

The use of engineered fabric structures is growing in its functional uses for numerous benefits. Gone are the days of fabric structures amounting to nothing more than tents. Today, they are fully functional structures used in various environments.

Organizations may wish to consider the value of choosing an engineered or non-engineered fabric structure. Engineered fabric structures are designed to fit your specific needs. Non-engineered fabric structures, by contrast, are off-the-shelf products designed with basic features appealing to many uses.

What Are Non-Engineered Fabric Buildings?

Non-engineered fabric buildings are versatile but designed to meet the needs of many, with few customizations to the fabric structure design. Some allow for customization through the addition of components to a main “kit” or setup. A non-engineered fabric building has:

  • Standardized design
  • The design was developed specifically by the manufacturer and engineering firm
  • Tend to follow industry standards
  • Tend to be more cost-effective to manufacture 
  • May have the same structural integrity and functionality across the board (limited specializations)

In terms of construction, a non-engineered fabric structure involves the assembly of prefabricated components. Most of these components will be manufactured by third parties, shipped to one location, and then constructed. This process reduces costs for the manufacturer and tends to allow for faster production time because the work is done in bulk. To achieve the best results, companies will then use bolted connections or similar methods of installation for these systems. Non-engineered fabric structures like this tend to have limited overall flexibility in their design beyond what is available.

Customization is the other key factor here. Non-engineered fabric buildings will offer limited customization. If they do have customization options, they may be limited to specific timeframes in the manufacturing. Some manufacturers offer customization options for different sizes, door and window placement alternatives, and other basic features. Non-engineered shade structures, buildings, and others that need to be more advanced may require much higher costs or even have no possibility of that manufacturer producing them.

What Are Engineered Fabric Structures?

Utilization of engineered fabric structures is more tailored to fit your specific needs. These buildings are designed by a manufacturer and designer working to meet specific project requirements rather than a blanket product that could apply to most applications. There is more involved in the design process. The building fabric engineer will work very closely with the end users to determine:

  • Where the fabric building will be used
  • Purpose of the structure
  • Any local building codes that could play a role in the end result
  • The preferences of the clients themselves in function, material, and design

As buildings are more tailored to the specific needs of the end user, they tend to provide a better long-term function and fit. The construction process is also more customized, with engineered structures; this may include options for on-site fabrication and customization to fit specific environments. Skill is key here – since customization limitations come down to the manufacturer’s actual abilities. With so much flexibility and unique feature options, including architectural details, it is possible to create highly effective spaces that create outstanding results.

Consider the Benefits of Non-Engineered Fabric Buildings

There are numerous benefits of fabric buildings in general:

  • They have corrosion resistance built into them
  • They are low-maintenance and long-lasting solutions
  • Repairs, if needed, are faster and more affordable to complete
  • They create a shadow-free environment to enhance functionality
  • They can reduce lighting and energy costs
  • They are faster to install

When you consider these advantages of a fabric building and then choose a fabric building supplier like Britespan, who can offer engineered fabric structures, you get even more benefits, including:

  • Highly customizable fabric buildings are designed for your specific functional needs, meaning you do not have to make it work, but it works for you.
  • Fast delivery, even though customization may drag down the process in some cases because we focus heavily on this specialization, we are able to keep up with your needs and timeline goals.
  • Versatile applications, even for the most unique environments, are possible. That includes benefits like portable structures, permanent installations on difficult terrain, and temporary fabric buildings.
  • Long warranties that provide ongoing support for you no matter the environment and the complications within the work you do.
  • It is versatile and can operate in any type of industry, from agriculture to commercial and industrial applications.

With custom-engineered fabric buildings, there is a misconception that the costs are higher, but that does not always apply. When you consider how flexible these spaces are, how much money they can save in energy costs, and how fast and easy they are to repair, it is easy to see that an engineered fabric structure is one of the most important investments you can make in your business.

Consider the Difference That Engineered Building Solutions Offer for Your Environment

A simple fabric building may work in some environments. A custom-designed fabric structure is the best choice in all situations. Designed to meet your specific needs including flexibility, portability, and durability, the investment in these structures may be the single best way you expand your space, enhance the functionality of your land, and achieve more no matter the goals or objects.

Contact Britespan Building Systems Inc. to find out how we can help you create the best possible solution for your space.