The distinctive focus of the Highly Flexible Slender Structures conference is on structural systems and its part or elements which are both (i) highly flexible, i.e. exposed to large overall structural deformation and (ii) slender, i.e. characterised by a geometry with one structural dimension considerably larger than the other two. The conference will take place during the closing stage of the MSCA Innovative Training Network THREAD on highly flexible slender structures for industrial applications and is posed to address the following open questions, specific to such structures:

  • How can the internal physical behaviour of a slender structure with a complex cross-section, e.g. multi-fibre and composite, be captured by a 1D model?
  • How can the resulting highly nonlinear problem be discretised in space and time without destroying its mathematical structure and symmetries?
  • How can the models and solvers account for complex mechanical interactions in systems composed of many rods and wires interacting with their environment?
  • How can the model be validated experimentally for large structural deformations?

The conference aims to attract wider research community working in the areas of mechanical modelling, mathematical formulations and numerical methods for highly flexible slender structures. Specifically, it is open to both engineers and mathematicians brought together around major challenges in theoretical and numerical analysis as well as industrial applications and open-source simulation software development for such structures. The topics of interest involve advanced concepts in experimental and theoretical structural mechanics, contact problems and non-smooth dynamics, computational geometry, discretisation methods and geometric numerical integration including the newest advances in numerical formulations on non-linear manifolds, which will help usher the next generation of virtual prototyping. It is expected that the conference will attract the interest of renowned experts and their teams working in these areas and it is estimated that more than forty contributions will come from the principal investigators, early-stage researchers and their collaborators involved in THREAD alone.

Laboratory and virtual experiments aimed at understanding the mechanical behaviour of complex flexible slender structures, such as multi-filament cables, multi-wired harnesses, taut stranded wires or composite beams, on the mesoscopic and macroscopic level, and then used to design cross-sectional stress-resultant models capable of capturing the observed constitutive laws make one of the key areas of research to which the conference will be devoted. Another one is cutting-edge and geometrically consistent spatial discretisation schemes as well as modelling interactions between the slender structures themselves and with their environment in operating conditions including frictional contact effects. System-level simulation methods and geometric time-integration algorithms able to deal with dynamic interactions between many flexible slender elements and their environment in large-scale models while respecting and preserving the non-linear mathematical structure of the problem, involving also those defined on Lie groups, are of particular interest.

Scientific/technical areas covered

  • Experimental mechanics for slender flexible structures
  • Constitutive modelling of complex composite cross-sections (e.g. multi-filament cables, multi-wired harnesses, composite slender structures etc.)
  • Physical and virtual experimentation and mesoscopic simulation models including those conducted in large-deformation elastic and inelastic regime aimed at designing efficient stress-resultant constitutive models
  • Advanced geometrical formulations and numerical discretisation of slender structures (e.g. local frame/Lie group approaches for spatial discretisation, local-frame methods, – arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian formulation etc.)
  • Contact mechanics in systems involving slender structures (e.g. frictional contact in multi-wire cables and composite beams, penalty-based contact formulations, complementarity conditions applied to continuous slender structures etc.)
  • Mathematical modelling and development of novel numerical algorithms for non-linear dynamic analysis on non-linear manifolds including large-scale models involving complex constitutive laws and those with internal and external constraints
  • Geometric integration of equations of motion including fundamental research in the fields of Lie group time integrators, energy-momentum methods and variational integrators aimed at preserving geometric structure and key invariants and guaranteeing convergence and stability 
  • Adaptive discretisation methods and model-order reduction methods aimed at improving computational efficiency and enabling real-time simulation
  • Application of the simulation methods to industrial problems for virtual product development, parameter identification and real-time simulation


The above topics will be grouped in mini-symposia or presented as a part of the general programme. The following mini-symposia will be organised:

  • MS-1 Constitutive modelling for flexible slender structures
  • MS-2 Contact and friction in mechanics of flexible slender structures
  • MS-3 Geometric integration methods for non-linear structural dynamics
  • MS-4 Teaching the science of modelling and simulation of slender flexible structures for applications in industry:  A curriculum for early stage researchers
  • MS-5 Advanced models and numerical formulations for the interaction of beams and the coupling of beams with solids
  • MS-6 Slender beam-like structures with scientific passion – mini-symposium in honour of Prof. Miran Saje
  • MS-7 Modelling and simulation of textile and fibrous materials
  • MS-8 Modelling beam-like layered structures with compliant interfaces

In addition, special sessions will be aimed at the future of the young researchers nearing the completion of their early-stage development. In those sessions, dedicated professionals will be invited to provide the appropriate training to the early-stage researchers both for the continuation of their career in academia as well as industry. The sessions will be designed to provide specific horizontal skills related to preparation of future job applications and writing research-grant proposals.