A linkage mechanism is a device to convert an input motion into a desired motion in a machine or a robot. The traditional linkage synthesis practice is depended on the experience and intuition of the skilled designer. This practice based on trial and error approach or only size/shape changes of already-available mechanism often results in improper design. This observation has motivated us to develop a so-called “automatic” design methodology that determines the linkage type and dimensions during synthesis process. The synthesis process can be formulated as a minimization problem. However, the process can be extremely difficult and time-consuming unless there is a single unified linkage model that represents any linkage mechanism without complicating kinematic analysis and allows the use of an efficient gradient-based optimizer. The main contribution of this research is to propose a unified planar linkage model consisting of rigid blocks connected by zero-length springs having real-valued variable stiffness. Stiffness controlling variables are the design variable of the minimization problem and a general planar linkage can be simulated by the spring-connected rigid block model if the stiffness value is chosen appropriately. This work shows how new idea works and verifies this new approach on the synthesis of the planar linkages consisting of links and revolute joints.

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