The initial design of compliant mechanisms for a specific application can be a challenging task. This paper introduces a topology optimization approach for planar mechanisms based on graph theory. It utilizes pseudo-rigid-body models, which allow the kinetostatic equations to be represented as nonlinear algebraic equations. This reduces the complexity of the system compared to beam theory or finite element methods, and has the ability to incorporate large deformations. Integer variables are used for developing the adjacency matrix, which is optimized by a genetic algorithm. Dynamic penalty functions describe the general and case-specific constraints. A symmetric 3R model is used to represent the beams in the mechanism. The design space is divided into rectangular segments while kinematic and static equations are derived using kinematic loops. The effectiveness of the approach is demonstrated with the example of an inverter mechanism. The results are compared against finite element methods to prove the validity of the new model as well as the accuracy of the approach outlined here. Future implementations of this method will include stress and deformation analysis and also introduce multi-material designs using different pseudo-rigid-body models.

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