Compliant space mechanisms
Updated: Mar 30
Compliant mechanisms offer distinct advantages for use in space that can address many of the issues encountered with current rigid-link space mechanisms. Compliant space mechanisms are defined as moveable mechanical assemblies that achieve their desired motion, force, or displacement by means of the deflection of flexible members and can perform a necessary function in the environments of launch and space.
Advantages of Compliant Space Mechanisms
Elimination of joints requiring lubrication or friction
Accurate analysis methods; redundancy in actuation and motion possible
Precision motion provides increased predictability and control over mechanism mode shapes, natural frequencies, and component stiffnesses, can improve isolation from deployment dynamics with distributed compliance
Ability to accurately model and predict joint and mechanism stiffnesses; distributed compliance is more accurate for analysis than lumped compliance and it can be accurately calculated
Analysis methods provide increased predictability of behavior in off-nominal conditions; reduced susceptibility to foreign objects during testing and operation
Possible challenges of compliant mechanisms in space applications
Designing joints or flexures capable of large deflection without failure due to stress, fatigue, or vibration
Designing thin flexible segments to withstand the vacuum and thermal extremes of space
Designing complex compliant mechanisms that can be manufactured from a planar (or similar) state
Stored strain energy (can be an advantage or drawback depending on the application)
Want to learn more about compliant space mechanisms? Contact the experts at CMDE Labs and explore this mechanism.