An increasing number of mechanical systems are being designed on the micro and meso scales. Assembly and maintenance become increasingly difficult as the size of mechanisms decrease, and the minimum size of traditional elements such as bearings and springs is limited. The backlash of bearings also limits their usefulness in applications where high precision and repeatability are needed. At small scales and for high precision applications, alternative, non-traditional elements are needed.

The objective of this thesis is to develop reliable and scalable compliant components to replace bearings and helical springs. Components replacing springs must be able to produce specified torque/motion requirements. Components replacing bearings must permit sufficient motion about the axis of rotation, bear specified loads in the lateral directions, and fit within roughly the same design space as a bearing. Additionally, all components will be designed to be manufactured using in-plane fabrication processes. Practical application of the components will be demonstrated by their use in Sandia National Laboratory's Stronglink assembly.

The concepts discussed in this thesis fall into three categories: mechanisms that replace 1) the helical spring, 2) the bearing, and 3) both the helical spring and the bearing. The serpentine flexure belongs to the first category, the compliant rolling-contact element (CORE), CORE bearing, and elliptical CORE bearing belong to the second, and the compliant contact-aided revolute (CCAR) joint belongs to the third category.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





compliant, precision, contact, mechanism, bearing, spring, revolute, joint