Compliant Mechanisms

Functional flexibility

Throughout the high-tech engineering fields, high-performance equipment such as precision instrumentation relies on mechanisms for the fine alignment of components. These mechanisms are used to transform motion, forces or energy from input to output. As opposed to rigid-body mechanisms, compliant mechanisms are monolithic and gain at least some of their mobility from the deflection of flexible members rather than movable joints. This gives compliant mechanisms the advantages of increased precision and reliability, combined with reduced wear and the lack of need for lubrication.

Because of these attractive properties, compliant mechanisms are specifically well suited for applications in the fields of micro- and nano-engineering, opto-mechatronics, aerospace, semiconductor equipment and health-care, such as microelectromechanical systems, smart structures, positioning stages, metamaterials and surgical robotics.

In contrast to rigid-body mechanisms where the motion is fully governed by the geometry, for compliant mechanisms, the design problem is associated with both the geometry and the stiffness of the design. Compliant mechanisms are classically designed using (semi) analytical modeling approaches, such as research by MSD. However, computational design methods such as topology optimization gain increased popularity as they allow for maximum design freedom without requiring the user to provide an initial concept.

The compliant mechanism research within SOM focuses on the development of computational design methods for novel manufacturable compliant structures satisfying common requirements from high-tech or (aero)space applications. This includes limiting the influence of variations introduced by the additive manufacturing process, to control both local stiffness and stress distribution in a robust manner. Moreover, this includes research towards multi-input-multi-output and geometrically nonlinear behavior, as well as multi-physics phenomena such as opto-thermomechanical stability at component and system level. Further details can be found in the project pages.