This thesis introduces lamina emergent mechanisms (LEMs) and presents components that can be used as building blocks to create LEMs capable of more complex motion. As the name suggests, lamina emergent mechanisms are fabricated out of planar materials (the lamina) but their motion is out of that plane (emergent). Lamina emergent mechanisms can provide benefits that include reduced manufacturing costs and minimal volume when in the planar state. The compact initial state of LEMs is beneficial in reducing shipping costs, especially in volume critical applications. LEMs also exhibit the potential benefits of compliant mechanisms, namely increased precision, reduced weight, reduced wear, and part count reduction. The LEM components presented in this thesis include flexible segments, fundamental mechanisms, and a new complaint joint, the lamina emergent torsional (LET) Joint. The flexible segments are developed through changes in geometry, boundary/loading conditions, and material. The fundamental mechanisms presented have motion similar to planar change-point four-bar and six-bar mechanisms, and spherical change-point mechanisms. The LET Joint is presented as a compliant joint suited for applications where large angular rotation is desired, but high off-axis stiffness is not as critical. The joint is introduced and the equations necessary for determining the force-deflection characteristics and stress are presented. Since the LET Joint can be fabricated from a single planar layer, it is well suited for macro and micro applications. Illustrative examples of the LET Joint are provided with devices fabricated from materials as diverse as steel, polypropylene, and polycrystalline silicon.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





compliant mechanism, lamina emergent mechanism, torsional hinge, lamina emergent torsional (LET) joint, planar fabrication, ortho-planar mechanism