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Lumped Compliance

Complaint mechanisms consisting of thin flexural hinges, replacing a conventional hinge joint, can be categorized as
lumped complaint mechanisms and are prone to high stress concentrations since the flexion is concentrated in
thin/narrow sections. Such a design works well as long as the mechanism is not subjected to heavy loads.

Flexural Joints

Basic flexural joints, or flexures, are sometimes referred to as living hinges. Unlike the other classes of compliant
mechanism, a simple flexure focuses compliance along a single axis and location within the object body (lumped
compliance). Design of such joints provides sufficient material to sustain appropriate levels of repeatability in a single
plane and sufficient precision to insure that displacement is accurate and consistent for every use.

Since flexion is concentrated at localized zones, flexural joints exhibit very limited load-carrying capacity and are not
suitable for applications that require moderate to heavy loads.

Examples:
Single-use Hemostats, Forceps and other Surgical Clamps provide a satisfactory performance alternative to metal
instruments and yet are inexpensive enough to be discarded after a single use. These mechanisms are designed with
a high level of accuracy to generate targeted clamping forces in specific profiles without damage to surrounding
tissues. The design also allows for single use applications where, once actuated, the joint is permanently engaged
(set and forget).

Distributed Compliance
We are already familiar with a number of human-designed monoform compliant mechanisms that
demonstrate distributed compliance. Perhaps the earliest and most elegantly example is an archers bow. As the
archer draws the bow, its form changes in compliance to the drawn bowstring. This strong, flexible mechanism can
be used with precision a good many times without failure. It can do this because, unlike the plastic bottle cap where
the thin flexural hinge lumps stresses along a designated axis between rigid adjacent structures, the archers bow
has no such localized flexural zones and distributes the stresses throughout its whole body. The Distributed
Compliance concept was pioneered by CSDL and has been the primary focus of our labs research activities.
Distributed compliance gives a structural system the ability to be simultaneously flexible and strong.

This simple and elegant compliant iris shows both how a monoform can achieve amazingly complex morphing, and
also demonstrates what we call distributed compliance. As force is applied to points on the perimeter ring, each
internal element is subject to equal, small, linear elastic strains (to maximize fatigue life), and yet, together, these
elements generate large deformations to change the aperture geometry by 1000%!

Compliant Joints with Distributed Compliance

To overcome the drawbacks of some flexural joints, we have developed compliant joints that offer high load bearing
capacity, low stress concentration, large range of motion, minimum axis drift, and very high off-axis stiffness. Various
complaint joints with distributed compliance are being studied by CSDL and these include a compliant revolute joint,
compliant universal joint (two revolute degrees of freedom), compliant spherical joint (3 revolute degrees of freedom)
and compliant translational joint (2D and 3D).

Multi-Stable Mechanisms

Compliant mechanisms with multiple low potential energy (or stable) positions offer significant benefits over
conventional detent schemes. A light switch is a bi-stable mechanism where no external energy is needed to maintain
the mechanism in its stable (on/off) positions. We have developed a generalized method of synthesizing bistable and
multi-stable mechanisms by combining multiple bi-stable mechanisms.
Papers:
Synthesis of Multi-stable Compliant Mechanisms using Combinations of Bi-Stable Mechanisms
ASME Transactions, Journal of Mechanical Design, Oh Y., Kota S. (2009)

Examples:
A quadri-stable (stable in four positions) rotational switch [for ?]
An automobile trunk lid lock mechanism with multiple links, joints and springs was replaced by a bi-stable
mechanism actuated by a monoform compliant mechanism that greatly reduces the sub-assembly cost and
weight of the device.