Gene and I met with Ralph Royner at RCR (metal fabrication) last Wednesday to review the project up to that point. We referenced the model I had compiled of the dome frame based on dividing the dome into eight panels that would be set in place one at a time between the center column and the top of the wall frame.
Ralph brought to our attention that the welding we had planned to do would require a certified welder, and it became clear that the ensuing chain of engineering certifications would be ruinous. It also became clear that having RCR construct the pieces of the dome was beyond the means of our budget. He suggested that we use bolts instead, which would circumvent the welding and perhaps even the engineering certifications. Bending the metal was something that RCR can perform famously, so we decided we would have them do that and take over fabrication from there. I rebuilt the model now assuming each of 16 ribs composing the dome would be individually bolted between the center column and the wall frame.
I also framed the walls of the structure, adding horizontal ribs to mount the bamboo panels and sheet metal strips. Plates to integrate the dome ribs to the frame ring and wall sections were added. I submit to the understanding that some welding, be it non structural and not overhead would be acceptable, so I designed the wall panels tobe modular. Further, Ralph suggested that some portion of the final drilling and bolting be done on site, so get yer drills ready!
As for getting the succulent panels made so they can begin to root, I suggested heavy gauge wire meshes used for concrete slab construction that would be cut to the shape of each of the 15 dome panels (16 ribs). Concrete meshes are typically 6×6″ grid, so a a secondary mesh would be in order. At each convenient point, hose clamps would be employed to fix the mesh to the dome ribs. If this model is agreed upon, a subcommittee could head the mesh effort right away to get the succulents planted as soon as possible.