This project aims to generate design tools that can be used to create large range of motion compliant mechanisms with unprecedented low actuation stiffness of exceptional spatial complexity along with the modeling methods to accurately describe their behavior.

Current state-of-the-art flexures consist of either straight (wire-flexure) or flat (leaf-spring) elements mainly originating from wire EDM manufacturing. With the advent of additive manufacturing a sudden dramatic increase of producible shapes has emerged. Curved flexures and truly 3D shapes are no longer added cost but have become a realist possibility. In this project we aim to improve the range of motion by exploring the geometric possibilities of additive manufacturing. The often complex shapes required to obtain high stiffness characteristics with multiple parallel stiffness paths leads to increased actuation moments which need to be dealt with by moment balancing. In addition the mechanism can be balanced or partially balanced to decrease reaction forces on the supporting frame.

The use of additive manufacturing materials for precision applications in vacuum will be part of this research. Limitations arise when materials are utilized in ultra-high vacuum such hydrogen cracking of the often in additive manufacturing used titanium based alloys. Additionally the aging and fatigue of these type of materials needs to be investigated.

The focus of this project is on the shape and topology synthesis of precision mechanisms, while considering manufacturing and material constraints.