Shanghai Tower: The secret to its stability

The Shanghai Tower is the second-tallest building in the world, after the Burj Khalifa (Dubai).

It took almost seven years to build the gigantic skyscraper, at an estimated cost of between USD 1.5 and 2.4 billion. Located in the heart of Pudong, Shanghai’s financial and economic centre, the Shanghai Tower is in good company, surrounded as it is by the Jim Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center, known affectionately to the locals as the “bottle opener” due to its unusual shape. However, don’t be deceived by the dense concentration of skyscrapers – the natural conditions in Shanghai pose significant challenges for engineers. Earthquakes and storms cause strong vibrations and compensating for those calls for great skill. But that is precisely where the profiles in our MB Building Kit System come in.

Think big!

It isn’t just the height of the Shanghai Tower that makes a lasting impression. The architectural concept behind the building was the creation of a vertical “city within a city” comprising nine sections, each made up of 12 to 15 floors. A dazzling range of boutiques, shops, gardens, conference and office rooms, and hotels awaits visitors, spread over a floor area of 380,000 m². A total of 128 floors are interconnected by 149 lifts, three of which are the fastest in the world, notching up a travel speed of 65 km/h.

The most visually striking aspect of the building is its spiral shape, but that isn’t just a bit of fun, it is highly effective in a number of ways. The final shape of the Shanghai Tower is based on a series of wind tunnel tests. By factoring the test results into their design, the architects were able to lower effective wind loading by 24 percent. What’s more, this special, stripped-down architecture helped to reduce costs by USD 58 million. But that’s not all – thanks to the spiral design, the building collects rainwater to be used in heating and air conditioning systems.

Reaching for the skies with aluminium

However, it isn’t just the shape of the building that helps it withstand the tough conditions in Shanghai – there is also a 1000 metric ton weight located between the 125th and 126th floors. The weight is suspended from 12 steel cables so that it can oscillate when subjected to vibrations. Underneath the weight are plates of pure copper that are fastened to the reinforced concrete floor using item profiles. Huge permanent magnets on the weight help to induce Eddy currents in the copper plates, thereby generating a magnetic field that works in the opposite direction to the weight to generate a contactless braking effect – even during a power failure. Thanks to the principle of the Eddy current brake, the Shanghai Tower is largely resistant to external vibrations.

Building this solution with steel supports was not an option, because these would have been permanently subject to attraction. Unlike iron, aluminium is paramagnetic. The holding force of the profiles ensures the plates can withstand the enormous force of attraction from the magnets for the long term. In fact, the magnets are powerful enough to lift a 300-metric-ton aircraft. However, the robust aluminium profiles stop the magnets and copper plates from coming into contact and thus maintain the braking effect.

The low weight of the profiles also proved to be a crucial advantage, as they had to be lifted to a height of 600 metres by a tower crane then carried by hand down seven floors. Had steel supports been used, it would have taken more than three times as many construction workers to move them into position. What’s more, no additional tools such as cranes or lifting platforms were required when fixing the profiles in place. Nevertheless, the aluminium design boasts the same strength as 304 stainless steel and even Q235A steel.

Do you want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in specialist mechanical engineering?
It couldn’t be easier – simply subscribe to the item blog by completing the box at the top right!


2017-02-27T09:44:00+00:00February 27th, 2017|China, Industries, News|
Read more:
Making a point of optimising the internal material flow
Making a point of optimising the internal material flow

19. Dec 2018 item Redaktion Once more the year is almost over and the holidays are fast approaching. All the more reason to look back at the blog highlights of 2018. At the same time, we’re signing off for a short Christmas break. After the over-indulgent festivities of the holiday season, the item blog kicked off the new year with an introduction to lean production methods. This is a great place to get an overview of lean terminology. Two more posts at the beginning of the year continued the lean theme. The first was about RWTH Aachen University, which had launched a practical course that teaches students lean assembly on a U-shaped cell. The second was on the CETPM and its new building, where a “Lean 4.0 lab” with integrated Karakuri solution enables an even better form of lean training. Becoming more efficient with digital engineering In the spring, our post “Digital engineering – designing online made simple” was the springboard for an issue that would come to shape 2018 for item. The item Engineeringtool, which is continuously growing, allows users to design 3D constructions using item components from the comfort of their web browser – without having to install any additional software. This means standard tasks can be completed more quickly, and even users with no previous experience find the whole design and configuration process easy. Florian Palatini, head of sales, was the subject of our interview with an expert, and this further expanded on the topic of digital engineering. Networking between design engineers and projects is at the heart of this, which means that engineers are increasingly taking on the role of a project manager. Other posts were devoted to data security in the face of digitalisation in the mechanical engineering sector and a basic explanation of what digitalisation actually is. The entire world of item Alongside these insights into the mechanical engineering of the future, we still stayed true to our roots. For example, we went back to Solingen in the 1970s and the origins of the MB Building Kit System. Shortly after, we dedicated a whole post to expounding the benefits of aluminium profiles. These benefits are particularly obvious in comparison with steel, as only three process steps are required instead of eight. Plus, aluminium is far lighter than steel, while also being very strong and exceptionally corrosion-resistant. The quality of fasteners for aluminium profiles is also of vital importance in this context. Thanks to our quality policy, we are able to provide targeted assistance to our customers in successfully meeting the challenges of specialist mechanical engineering. Stylish and functional We are always fascinated by the unusual ways our solutions are used. For example, we were particularly impressed by the world’s largest 360-degree display in the Autostadt Wolfsburg. The basic construction uses curved profiles from the MB Building Kit System. In the Sivasdescalzo sneaker store in Barcelona, our profile technology is not just to be found in the frame structure of the shelving. Used in the place of steps and to form display platforms, it also adds to the store’s stunning look. Munich-based start-up Spyra has also taken a liking to our profiles, which offer a flexibility and stability that turned out to be perfect for the prototype and a test channel for the innovative Spyra One water pistol. We hope this year’s blog posts about solutions, applications and people from the world of item have been a useful source of inspiration. We’d like to wish all our readers, customers and partners a very happy festive season and a great start to the new year! We’re taking a little break, but will be back after the holidays, with the first article for 2019 on 9 January. Previous article Digitalisation in layman’s terms Categories Latest Posts Archive Research Know-how News Industries People via E-Mail Don´t miss a new blog article!
Best of 2018 – our annual review

Formula Student – a Czech racing team is putting the pedal to the metal
Formula Student – a Czech racing team is putting the pedal to the metal