A novel contact aided compliant mechanism called a bend-and-sweep compliant mechanism is presented. This mechanism has tailorable nonlinear stiffness properties in two orthogonal directions. The fundamental element of this compliant mechanism is the Angled Compliant Joint (ACJ), and the geometric parameters determine the stiffness. This paper presents the design and optimization of such a compliant mechanism.

A multi-objective optimization problem was formulated for design optimization of the bend-and-sweep compliant mechanism. The objectives of the optimization problem were to maximize the bending and sweep displacements while minimizing the von Mises stress and mass of each mechanism. This optimization problem was solved using NSGA-II (a genetic algorithm). The results of this optimization for a single ACJ during upstroke and downstroke are presented. Results of two different loading conditions used during optimization of a single ACJ for upstroke are presented. Finally, optimization results comparing the performance of compliant mechanisms with one and two ACJs are also presented. It can be inferred from these results that the number of ACJs and the design of each ACJ determines the stiffness of the bend-and-sweep compliant mechanism. These mechanisms can be used in various applications.

Ornithopters or flapping wing unmanned aerial vehicles have unique potential to revolutionize both civil and military applications. The overall goal of this research is to improve the performance of such ornithopters by passively morphing their wings. Passive wing morphing of ornithopters can be achieved by inserting contact-aided compliant mechanisms in the leading edge wing spar. Previously the authors have shown that bending of ornithopter wings can be achieved by integrating a one degree of freedom contact aided compliant mechanism called a compliant spine. The spine was inserted into the leading edge spar and successful flight testing has shown that passive wing bending in ornithopters is feasible and results in significant improvements in lift and thrust. In order to achieve a bio-inspired wing gait called continuous vortex gait, the wings of the ornithopter need to bend, sweep, and twist simultaneously. This can be achieved by using the bend-and-sweep compliant presented in this paper.

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