In 2002, a Microsoft-MIT iCampus effort was initiated to generate methods and tools which accelerate the process by which students and researchers acquire perspective and skill in compliant mechanism design: (1) Experience and skill: A synthesis tool, CoMeT, was developed as a means for researchers and students to gain experience and skill in working with old (education) and new (research) compliant mechanisms. The simulator is based on compliance theory and screw theory. (2) Perspective: A framework, the 5 Fs, was developed to help designers form a holistic perspective on compliant mechanisms. A “big picture” view helps them systematically identify and link the important elements of a compliant mechanism problem. This opens to door for them to properly conceptualize, model and fabricate these mechanisms. In this paper we discuss the work of early compliant mechanism/instrument designers to gain insight into how they thought about, designed and taught others about compliant mechanisms. We explain how their work has influenced the development of our framework and simulator. We then show results obtained by using the framework and simulator at MIT in: (1) Compliant mechanism research: Generation of a compliant mechanism for an R&D 100 award winning, six-axis Nanomanipulator. (2) Compliant mechanism education: Use within student projects to design two devices: A compliant x-y Nanomanipulator with 30×30 μm range and a MEMS accelerometer. Both devices are designed, fabricated and tested in a semester-long class. The paper closes with an appendix which highlights the main steps of a CoMeT study on the screw axis characteristics of a four bar compliant mechanism. The CoMeT simulator and a CoMeT User’s Guide have been made publicly available for academic use at psdam.mit.edu.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.