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Chapter 1. Introduction 1.1 Flexures

Summary: 11
Chapter 1. Introduction
1.1 Flexures
Flexure mechanisms are a designer's delight. Except for the limits of elasticity, flexures present few other
boundaries as far as applications are concerned. Flexures have been used as bearings to provide smooth
and guided motion, for example in precision motion stages; as springs to provide preload, for example in
the brushes of a DC motor or a camera lens cap; to avoid over-constraint, as in the case of bellows or
helical coupling; as clamping devices, for example, the collet of a lathe; for elastic averaging as in a
windshield wiper; and for energy storage, such as, in a bow or a catapult. This list encompasses
applications related to the transmission of force, displacement as well as energy, thereby making the
versatility of flexures quite evident.
Flexures are compliant structures that rely on material elasticity for their functionality. Motion is
generated due to deformation at the molecular level, which results in two primary characteristics of
flexures smooth motion and small range of motion. From the perspective of precision machine design,
one may think of flexures as being means for providing constraints. It is this capability of providing
constraints that make flexures a specific subset of springs. In fact, all the applications listed above may be
resolved in terms of constraint design.
The importance of properly constrained design is well known to the engineering community [1-5]. The
objective of an ideal constraining element, mechanism, or device is to provide infinite stiffness and zero
displacements along certain directions, and allow infinite motion and zero stiffness along all other


Source: Awtar, Shorya - Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan


Collections: Engineering