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On the Horizon: Tool-free, Geodesic Event Domes

On the Horizon: Tool-free, Geodesic Event Domes

TentCraft /// 01/29/2020

Our clients and agency partners are always looking for event tents and structures that are:

     
  • •  Unique and capture more attention
  • •  Built for outdoor events and experiences
  • •  Customizable with digital printing and accessories
  • •  Lightweight, easy-to-transport and quick to set up

The TentCraft industrial design and engineering team have spent the last handful of months creating a portable, geodesic-inspired dome tent that meets the above criteria—and we’re building our first prototype.


UPDATE: Our 20' diameter, tool-free event dome is now available. Turnaround time is 5-7 days.



What are Geodesic Dome Tents?


While Buckminster Fuller is not the original inventor of the geodesic dome, he is credited with driving popularity of the dome and received a patent. Simply put, a geodesic structure is a sphere-shaped structure constructed out of interconnecting lines rather than curved surfaces. Popularity of the geodesic dome is based on two design principles:

     
  • •  It creates the largest volume of interior space while requiring the least amount of surface area—translating into material and cost savings

  • •  The structure has an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio and can withstand heavy winds

The geodesic dome structure is not a new concept. The first dome that was labeled as "geodesic" was for a dome theater planetarium designed by Walther Bauersfeld in 1922. Geodesic homes became popular in the 1960s and 1970s—and within the last 5 years, event domes have become more popular for brand activations, corporate events and other outdoor experiences. Restaurants and breweries are using domes to create unique outdoor venues to accommodate more customers throughout warm and cold seasons. Hotels & resorts are creating beach-side cabanas and roof top lounges.



geodesic dome image search results in Google


Gap in the Market


If event dome tents aren’t a new concept, then what’s with the hype?

Our team is directly addressing what we believe to be the biggest barriers to greater adoption within the experiential marketing and event space.


     
  • •  Lack of user-friendly design, requires tools, leading to longer setup times & extra labor

  • •  Lack of portability, expensive to transport

  • •  Lack of Options

Challenge #1: Current geodesic dome solutions aren’t user-friendly

Current dome event tent offerings require both tools and hours to install. On average there are 160-175 struts that need to be connected with a bolt at 30 different joints. At each joint, the struts need to overlap one another and then a bolt and washer must be installed. You also need make sure you're connecting the right parts. The last thing you want to do is to have to go back and replace a strut.

closeup of geodesic dome connection joint


Some even require the use of a crane or lift to install the top section—so you’re potentially paying extra fees to have third-party installers on hand, absorbing more of your event budget. This is why dome event rentals are more common.



Average Specs for 20' Diameter Geodesic Event Dome:

Frame Material: Galvanized Steel
Diameter: 20'
Overall Height: 11-12'
Frame Weight: 700-800 lbs
Frame + Cover Weight: 800-900 lbs
Tools required: Yes
Equipment required: Yes
Approximate Setup Time: 3-4 hours
Transport: Pallet

Solution: Fewer Pieces, Lighter Tool-Free Design for Simple & Faster Setup

We designed connection joints where each aluminum pole simply clicks in—that’s it. While most geodesic tents are built from the bottom up, our design is easily built, starting with the top. The entire dome is made from 64 equal-length aluminum poles.



TentCraft 20' Event Dome Tent Prototype Specs:

Frame Material: Anodized aluminum
Diameter: 20'
Overall Height: 12'
Frame Weight: 90 lbs
Frame + Cover Weight: 150-175 lbs
Soft Goods Weight: TBD
Tools required: None
Approximate Setup Time: 30-45 minutes with 2 people
Transport: 2 transport bags (1 for frame hardware & 1 for soft goods)

Watch the timelapse of the TentCraft team putting together the first dome prototype.




Step 1:

30 of the poles will have a connection joint attached to them. You’ll start with these pieces and quickly assemble 6 pentagons (5-sides).

event dome setup instructions

event dome setup - step 1

Step 2:

Designate one of the pentagons to be the top “ceiling panel”. Grab 5 more aluminum poles and connect each one to the ceiling panel.

event dome setup - step 2

Step 3:

Connect the remaining 5 pentagons to the structure you made in step 2. Grab 5 more poles and connect each pentagon together horizontally.

event dome setup - step 3

Step 4:

Attach 10 more poles to each remaining connection joint

event dome setup - step 4

Step 5:

Use the remaining 14 poles and connectors to assemble the base of the frame. Connect the base and dome together.



event dome setup - step 5

event dome setup - step 6

event dome setup - fastening cover

Step 6:

The soft goods would then need to be fitted over the top and fastened at the base



event dome setup - installing cover

event dome rendering with custom printing

dome tent design with windows

Challenge #2: Lack of Portability

Current dome event tent offerings require both tools and hours to install. Some even require the use of a crane or lift to install the top section—so you’re potentially paying extra fees to have third-party installers on hand, absorbing more of your event budget. This is why dome event rentals are more common.



Solution: Everything Breaks down into 2 Transport bags

Because there are fewer frame pieces required to build the geodesic structure, the entire frame breaks down to fit into 4' long transport bag. The soft goods will fold up to fit in a separate transport bag.



Challenge #3: Limited Options

Because of the longer setup times and lack of portability, the professional geodesic dome marketplace is limited. Pacific Domes and Polidomes are your primary options. While you can find geodesic domes on Amazon, you're limited to smaller sizes and most certainly will be sacrificing quality, support and customization.



Solution: A New Option & Lower Price Point

The wonderful thing about competition is that it drives innovation and usually results in lower prices. Because we're using less overall material in the frame design, we expect not only a lower price point but also reduced freight costs.



FAQs


When will the event dome be available?

The team is currently planning for a Q2 launch (first week of April).



What event dome sizes will be available?

While we plan to offer more sizes, we're starting with a 20' diameter dome tent.



What is the expected turnaround time?

We take pride in matching quality with speed so we're aiming for a turnaround time of 7 business days or less.



Why did you choose use anodized aluminum instead of steel for the dome frame?

We chose anodized aluminum because of its strength-to-weight ratio. The material allowed us to reduce the weight of the structure by more than 300% (600 pounds) which reduces the setup time from 3-4 hours to 45 minutes. The portability of the event tent also drastically increases since fewer pieces are required to create the same shape. Reducing the weight and increasing portability is the key to reducing cost. Not only do we expect a lower purchase price but also lower freight costs.



Related Content: Steel vs. Aluminum Pop Up Tents


What material is the cover made of?
The cover can be made from a number of substrates to accommodate both indoor and outdoor venues. Substrates include vinyl, polyester, stretch and blockout material.



What kind of customization is available?
The covers can be digitally printed with any type of artwork. Custom windows and vents (HVAC integration) can be added. We're also working on lighting, counter and door accessories.



Takeaways


TentCraft is close to bringing a quick-deploy dome tent to market with the following advantages:

     
  • •  Quicker Production/Turnaround: 7 Business Days
  • •  At Least 300% Lighter than Current Dome Options
  • •  30-45 Minute Setup Time (Rather than 3-4 Hours)
  • •  Improved Portability For Easier Transport & Cheaper Freight Costs
  • •  Greater Customization

If you have any specific questions about the dome, contact us using any of the below methods:

- Phone: 800-950-4553


- Click the Chat Icon in the Lower Right and Start a Live Chat Conversation


- Send us a message using our contact us form



About TentCraft

We’re more than just custom pop up tents — TentCraft is a premium fabricator of all things experiential marketing and outdoor advertising. If it combines metal, fabric and print our team of skilled craftsmen can transform any napkin sketch or wild idea into a fully realized project. Serving the biggest brands on the planet as well as your local High School, if you want the perfect blend of quality and American craftsmanship, we’ve got you covered.