This paper presents an integrated design approach, a new topology optimization technique, to simultaneously synthesizing the optimal structural topologies of compliant mechanisms (CMs) and actuator placement — bending actuators and rotary actuators — for motion generation. The approach has the following salient features: (1) the use of bending actuators and rotary actuators as the actuation of CMs, (2) the simultaneous optimization of the CM and the location and orientation of the actuator that is embedded in the CM, (3) the guiding of a flexible link from an initial configuration to a series of desired configurations (including precision positions, orientations, and shapes), and (4) a new connectivity checking scheme to check whether the regions of interest in a design candidate are well connected. A program was employed for the geometrically nonlinear finite element analysis of large-displacement CMs driven by either bending actuators or rotary actuators. Two design examples were presented to demonstrate the proposed approach. The design results were 3D printed, and they all achieved desired shape changes when actuated.

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