Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
Mech. Sci., 3, 15–23, 2012

Special issue: Future directions in compliant mechanisms

Mech. Sci., 3, 15–23, 2012

Research article 28 Mar 2012

Research article | 28 Mar 2012

Building block method: a bottom-up modular synthesis methodology for distributed compliant mechanisms

G. Krishnan1, C. Kim2, and S. Kota3 G. Krishnan et al.
  • 1Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA
  • 2Mechanical Engineering, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA
  • 3Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA

Abstract. Synthesizing topologies of compliant mechanisms are based on rigid-link kinematic designs or completely automated optimization techniques. These designs yield mechanisms that match the kinematic specifications as a whole, but seldom yield user insight on how each constituent member contributes towards the overall mechanism performance. This paper reviews recent developments in building block based design of compliant mechanisms. A key aspect of such a methodology is formulating a representation of compliance at a (i) single unique point of interest in terms of geometric quantities such as ellipses and vectors, and (ii) relative compliance between distinct input(s) and output(s) in terms of load flow. This geometric representation provides a direct mapping between the mechanism geometry and their behavior, and is used to characterize simple deformable members that form a library of building blocks. The design space spanned by the building block library guides the decomposition of a given problem specification into tractable sub-problems that can be each solved from an entry in the library. The effectiveness of this geometric representation aids user insight in design, and enables discovery of trends and guidelines to obtain practical conceptual designs.