Robotics and space applications represent areas where compliant mechanisms can continue to make a significant impact by reducing costs and weight while improving performance. Because of the nature of these applications, a common need is for bearing replacement mechanisms, or mechanisms that perform the function of a bearing without the complexity and failure modes associated with bearings. Static balancing is a design strategy that attempts to reduce the actuation effort of a mechanism, and has been applied to compliant mechanisms in some applications. Monolithic construction, especially by means of 3D printing technology, is a strategy whereby the mechanism links and joints are built as a single "chunk" of material. This eliminates assembly and failure modes associated with wear and friction in traditional joints. In this work we examine these design strategies in the context of robotics and space applications. Matlab and Ansys batch files can be found in Appendix A. A fully compliant zero-torque, statically balanced mechanism is described that can undergo greater than 100 of motion. Because compliant mechanisms achieve their motion from the deflection of their constituent members, there is some strain energy associated with actuated positions. By introducing an appropriate pre-load, strain energy can be held constant. This can reduce or nearly eliminate the input force required from the actuating device. This paper describes the statically balanced rotary joint concept, and demonstrates its optimization, testing, and implementation for a haptic pantograph mechanism. The statically balanced properties of the constituent joints result in a mechanism with two balanced degrees of freedom. Matlab and Ansys batch files can be found in Appendix B. The conception, modeling, and development of a fully compliant two-degree-of-freedom pointing mechanism for application in spacecraft thruster, antenna, or solar array systems is described. The design objectives and the advantages of a compliant solution are briefly discussed. A single design concept is selected for final development from a field of generated concepts. Analytical and numerical models are accompanied by prototype testing and measurements in several iterations. A final design is described in detail, a fully compliant prototype is fabricated in titanium, and its performance is measured.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





compliant mechanisms, static balancing, monolithic, space mechanisms, pointing, mechanism, robotics