Accurate analysis models are critical for effectively utilizing elastomeric joints in miniature compliant mechanisms. This paper presents work toward the characterization and modeling of miniature elastomeric hinges. Characterization was carried out in the form of several experimental bending tests and tension tests on representative hinges in five different configurations. The modeling portion is achieved using a planar pseudo rigid body (PRB) analytical model for these hinges. A simplified planar 3-spring PRB analytical model was developed, consisting of a torsional spring, an axial spring, and another torsional spring in series. These analytical models enable the efficient exploration of large design spaces. The analytical model has been verified to within an accuracy of 3% error in pure bending, and 7% in pure tension, when compared to finite element analysis (FEA) models. Using this analytical model, a complete mechanism—a robotic leg consisting of four rigid links and four compliant hinges—has been analyzed and compared to a corresponding FEA model and a fabricated mechanism.

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