Flexible multibody modelling for exact constraint design of compliant mechanisms

Ronald G.K.M. Aarts*, Jacob Philippus Meijaard, Jan B. Jonker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


In high precision equipment, the use of compliant mechanisms is favourable as elastic joints offer the advantages of low friction and no backlash. If the constraints in a compliant mechanism are not carefully dealt with, even small misalignments can lead to changes in natural frequencies and stiffnesses. Such unwanted behaviour can be avoided by applying exact constraint design, which implies that the mechanism should have exactly the required degrees of freedom and non-redundant constraints so that the system is kinematically and statically determinate. For this purpose, we propose a kinematic analysis using a finite element based multibody modelling approach. In compliant mechanisms, the system’s degrees of freedom are presented clearly from the analysis of a system in which the deformation modes with a low stiffness are free to deform while the deformation modes with a high stiffness are considered rigid. If the Jacobian matrix associated with the dependent coordinates is not full column or row rank, the system is under-constrained or over-constrained. The rank of this matrix is calculated from a singular value decomposition. For an under-constrained system, any motion in the mechanism that is not accounted for by the current set of degrees of freedom is visualised using data from the right singular matrix. For an over-constrained system, a statically indeterminate stress distribution is derived from the left singular matrix and is used to visualise the over-constraints. The analysis is exemplified for the design of a straight guiding mechanism, where under-constrained and over-constrained conditions are visualised clearly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-133
Number of pages14
JournalMultibody system dynamics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


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