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A Strength Based Approach for the Synthesis of a Compliant Nonlinear Spring for an Orthotic Knee Brace

[+] Author Affiliations
Girish Krishnan, Ryan Rank, Sridhar Kota

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

John Rokosz, Phil Carvey

Adicep Inc., Bedford, MA

Paper No. DETC2013-12727, pp. V06AT07A033; 12 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 6A: 37th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference
  • Portland, Oregon, USA, August 4–7, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5593-5
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


Lightweight mechanical energy-storage devices or springs with nonlinear strain-energy absorption rate are important building blocks for passive/quasi-passive rehabilitation robotics. They provide support and controllable energy storage/release into the system thereby making daily activities such as walking/running metabolically efficient for the disabled. These devices have stringent footprint constraints and must withstand 10 million cycles of loading for successful implementation on an orthotic device. Currently, there are no off-the-shelf springs or a systematic synthesis methodology that can meet these requirements in a deterministic fashion. In this paper, we demonstrate how existing body of knowledge in compliant mechanisms can be systematically leveraged to design spring geometries with distributed compliance that meet fatigue criteria and weight requirements. Towards this, we implement a strength-based approach to determine feasible initial solutions that upon optimization yield geometries with maximally distributed stresses. Such a framework is general and can be adapted for designing any compliant mechanism.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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