Short course: Course shows how to use compliant design

Instructor says virtually any product with multiple mechanical parts that perform a motion function can be considered.

By Control Engineering Staff September 23, 2008

Ann Arbor, MI — Participants in the new hands-on University of Michigan short course, “Compliant Design,” will have a unique opportunity to take an innovative approach to solving a real-life control design problem that they bring from their workplace, according to the university. The course will be runA compliant mechanism is a biologically-inspired flexible single piece that elastically changes shape to produce desired functionality. Sridhar Kota, U-M Professor of Mechanical Engineering who will teach the course, says that virtually any product with multiple mechanical parts that perform a motion function can be considered for this no-assembly design.Examples of compliant design include aircraft wings that alter their shape in response to changing flight conditions, one-piece windshield wipers, and prosthetic joints with a full range of motion. Applications include shape morphing on demand, design for no assembly, active flow control, micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS), advanced actuators, medical devices, and custom mechanical systems. No assembly, no wear, and lower cost are among the many advantages of compliant design.Using specialized software and water-jet laser cutting, students will fabricate a custom original functional prototype that employs flexible adaptive shape change. This provides a whole new way to solve engineering problems because elasticity in engineering design allows the generation of most mechanical functions with a single part. Streamlined compliant systems morph without joints or hinges.Product quality and cost are greatly impacted by the number of parts it contains. Several studies indicate that across a wide range of industries, assembly accounts for more than 40% of the labor cost and about 50% of the manufacturing cost. Reducing the number of parts allows precision engineering and design while often lowering cost. In addition to simpler construction, compliant structures have unique qualities that give them higher fatigue life and reliability. Designs can be tailored for specific stiffness or rigidity and yet are flexible enough to allow desired motion.The short course is sponsored by Michigan Interdisciplinary and Professional Education (InterPro), part of the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan, which develops and delivers programs and services for engineers, managers, and technical professionals including graduate degree programs, distance learning, non-credit public short courses, professional certification programs, and conferences.Also see: Quality control tips: How to avoid making errors in the first place. — edited by C.G. Masi , senior editor Control Engineering Machine Control eNewsletter Register here and scroll down to select your choice of eNewsletters free.