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Closed-Loop Tape Springs as Fully Compliant Mechanisms: Preliminary Investigations

[+] Author Affiliations
Christine Vehar, Sridhar Kota, Robert Dennis

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Paper No. DETC2004-57403, pp. 1023-1032; 10 pages
  • ASME 2004 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2: 28th Biennial Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, September 28–October 2, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4695-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3742-4
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


The paper introduces tape springs as elements of fully compliant mechanisms. The localized folds of tape springs serve as compact revolute joints, with a very small radius and large range of motion, and the unfolded straight segments serve as links. By exploiting a tape spring’s ability to function as both links and joints, we present a new method of realizing fully compliant mechanisms with further simplification in their construction. Tape springs, typically found in carpenter tape rules, are thin-walled strips having constant thickness, zero longitudinal curvature, and a constant transverse curvature. The paper presents a closed-loop tape spring mechanism. By representing its folds as idealized revolute joints and its variable length links as sliding joints connecting rigid links, we present a modified Gruebler’s equation to determine its kinematic and idle degrees of freedom. To realize practical utility of tape spring mechanisms, we propose a simple actuation scheme incorporating shape memory alloy (SMA) wire actuators and successfully demonstrate its performance with a proof-of-concept prototype. The paper also presents potential applications for actuated tape spring mechanisms including a large displacement translational mechanism, planar positioning mechanisms, bi-stable, multi-stable, and variable stiffness mechanisms.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME



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