Design and fabrication of miniature compliant hinges for multi-material compliant mechanisms

TitleDesign and fabrication of miniature compliant hinges for multi-material compliant mechanisms
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsBejgerowski W, Gerdes J, Gupta SK, Bruck H
JournalThe International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology
Pagination437 - 452
Date Published2011///
ISBN Number0268-3768

Multi-material molding (MMM) enables the creation of multi-material mechanisms that combine compliant hinges, serving as revolute joints, and rigid links in a single part. There are three important challenges in creating these structures: (1) bonding between the materials used, (2) the ability of the hinge to transfer the required loads in the mechanism while allowing for the prescribed degree(s) of freedom, and (3) incorporating the process-specific requirements in the design stage. This paper presents the approach for design and fabrication of miniature compliant hinges in multi-material compliant mechanisms. The methodology described in this paper allows for the concurrent design of the part and the manufacturing process. For the first challenge, mechanical interlocking strategies are presented. For the second challenge, the development of a simulation-based optimization model of the hinge is presented, involving functional and manufacturing constrains. For the third challenge, the development of hinge positioning features and gate positioning constraints is presented. The developed MMM process is described, along with the main constraints and performance measures. This includes the process sequence, the mold cavity design, gate selection, and runner system development. A case study is presented to demonstrate the feasibility of creating multi-material mechanisms with miniature hinges serving as joints through MMM process. The approach described in this paper was utilized to design a drive mechanism for a flapping wing micro air vehicle. The methods described in this paper are applicable to any lightweight, load-bearing compliant mechanism manufactured using multi-material injection molding.