Bistable mechanisms provide two stable positions. Input power is not needed to maintain any of the two stable positions. To switch from one stable position to another, input power is required. Bistable mechanisms have many applications including valves, closures, switches and various other devices. Unlike conventional rigid-body bistable mechanisms that rely on relative motions of kinematic joints, bistable compliant mechanisms take advantage of elastic deformations of flexible members to achieve two stable positions. There are two symmetric buckled shapes in a precompressed beam that has one fixed end and one pinned end. The two buckled shapes match the two stable equilibrium positions of bistable compliant mechanisms. The precompressed beam can be rotationally actuated at the pinned end to snap from one buckled shape to another. Synthesizing precompressed beams as bistable mechanisms is challenging because of buckling instability and integrated force and deflection characteristics. In this paper, the buckled shape is derived for a precompressed beam with fixed and pinned ends. The input torque at the pinned end is analyzed for a precompressed beam to snap between its two symmetric buckled shapes. Precompressed beams are synthesized as bistable compliant mechanisms through axial compression and beam thickness in this paper.

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