Lamina Emergent Mechanisms (LEMs) are a class of compliant mechanisms that can be manufactured from sheet goods and possess motion out of the plane of fabrication. LEMs can be designed to perform sophisticated motions. This thesis expands LEM understanding and increases the ability to utilize them in applications by introducing the fundamentals of spherical LEMs, creating joints suitable for LEMs, and providing an example of a LEM application. In this thesis, the fundamentals of spherical LEMs are developed. This includes classification of all possible spherical 4R LEMs and a discussion of the motion characteristics of the various mechanisms. The motion characteristics associated with spherical 4R LEMs are then used to predict the motion of spherical 6R LEMs and arrays of spherical LEMs. Multiple spherical LEM prototypes are shown and discussed. A common difficulty of working with compliant mechanisms, especially LEMs, is creating suitable joints. There is often a trade off between flexibility in the desired direction of deflection, and stiffness in directions of undesired deflection. For this thesis, LEM joints that possess higher off-axis stiffness, especially in tension and compression, than previous designs were developed: the I-LET, the T-LET, and the IT-LET. Joint geometries were optimized and then modeled in commercial finite element analysis (FEA) software capable of nonlinear analysis. These models were used to predict the bending of tensile/compressive stiffnesses of the joints. As a benchmark, lamina emergent torsional (LET) joints were modeled and optimized for maximum tension and compression loading while maintaining the same bending stiffness as the joint being compared. Mechanisms that utilized the new joints were created and are briefly discussed. The use of these joints allows for minimized parasitic motion under tension and compression loads and expands the capability of LEM joints. The Lens Lift™ was developed to demonstrate an application of LEMs. The Lens Lift™ is a LEM device that allows for easier and more sterile use of disposable contact lenses. It possesses a monolithic structure and can be fabricated using simple manufacturing processes. As the contact lens user opens the blister pack used to store the lens, the lens is lifted out of the pack and presented to the user. The user can then lift the lens with one touch and place it in the eye. A provisional patent has been filed for the device and the device currently being evaluated by a major contact lens manufacturer for further development.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





LEMs, compliant mechanisms, spherical mechanisms, LEM joints