Analysis and design of a large-range bistable linear guide with high support stiffness and low parasitic motion

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The exploration of compliant mechanisms, especially those providing linear motion, has become a central focus in recent engineering research. These mechanisms, characterized by their monolithic bodies and reduced component interactions, present an attractive alternative to traditional rigid mechanisms, having reduced friction, decreased energy losses, and cost efficiencies. Despite these advantages, designing and analyzing compliant mechanisms remain difficult tasks, with particular challenges arising when aiming for large-range linear motion with high support stiffness and minimal parasitic displacement. This study presents a unique design: the combination of a flexure-based linear guide with the features of a bistable compliant switch mechanism. Because a combination of these mechanisms has not been looked into while still offering a long stroke, high support stiffness and minimal parasitic motion. Through Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and subsequent iterations, an optimized model was conceived, prioritizing stiffness and minimizing undesired motions. This optimized design was turned into a 3D printed prototype. The experiments with the prototype confirmed the results of our computational insights, showcasing the parasitic motion of the prototype to be within 1mm, and its minimum stiffness at least being 10kN/m while still having a stroke of 70mm. A case study has been set up, of which the proof of concept works and is validated.