While building tall structures using long beams you might face the issue with stiffness. Lack of twisting and bending resistance in the weak sections can affect your project’s performance, so it is important to deal with these issues. Totem beams are designed and manufactured to be stronger when bending force applies on the beams’ flat surface, but sometimes it is not that easy to change it’s position in the assembly. If that is the case, here you will find 3 tips on how to make stronger structures.


1st method – using triangle support structures

One of the methods would be to use triangle support constructions. Triangles are the fundamental building blocks of many contemporary structures. Their strong, inflexible structure makes them perfect for contemporary designs. They are used in architecture and construction to create structures that will bear a certain amount of weight but still have material strength limits. Just by adding diagonal beam through the middle of a square you are effectively turning the structure into two triangles and eventually making it stronger.


Totem triangle structure


2nd method – using strip brackets

Another method is to use aluminum strip brackets fixed inside of the beams or to the board. Find a weak spot in your structure and depending on the situation use one-sided or double-sided mount (double-sided fixture compared to one-sided is stronger but heavier). To keep them in place you will need few bolts and nuts. Just keep in mind that this method will block beam’s slots, so use it wisely.


Totem aluminum strip brackets


3rd method – using 3D printed parts

To achieve even stronger structures you can consider using 3D printed parts. One of the options is the “Magic Cross” (you can download STL file from our library: https://totemmaker.net/wiki/temporary-parts-library/ ). It is meant to be used in between 4 beams with an easy fix of few bolts and nuts. The part will significantly reduce twisting and bending forces while still leaving possibilities to join parts in 5 different directions.


3D printed Magic Cross


We set up a stress test to show how each method acts in the same conditions. Beams are fixed to the table with 20 cm shoulder hanging in the air. On the end we attached bag of nuts that weights 0.5 kg (~630 pieces). For this test we used beam without any extra parts (1), beam with strip brackets fixed on one side (2), beam with strip brackets fixed on two sides (3) and assembly made with “Magic Cross” connections (4). You can see how each of the participants resists the bending force in the pictures below.


Test: strengthened Totem beam