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Developable Mechanisms On Developable Surfaces

ID: 2018-032 Developable mechanisms are devices that emerge from or conform to developable (curved) surfaces.

Principal Investigator: Larry Howell

There is an increasing demand for ultra-compact mechanical systems that are capable of complex tasks and developable mechanisms are envisioned as next-generation mechanical systems to meet these needs.

Developable mechanisms are made possible by the discovery that aligning joint axes with ruling lines of developable surfaces results in specific mechanism types: generalized cones map to spherical mechanisms, generalized cylinders to planar mechanisms, planes to lamina emergent mechanisms, and tangent developed surfaces to spatial mechanisms.

A developable surface can be thought of as a shape that can be made from a thin sheet of material without breaking or stretching. The term "developable mechanism" is coined to describe a mechanism that conforms to or is created from a developable surface.

Developable mechanisms will enable engineers to meet future and presently-unfulfilled needs for hyper-compact mechanisms in several important application areas. Developable mechanisms are capable of sophisticated tasks, yet can be hyper compact relative to the surfaces in which they are contained and even be monolithic with the surface material. Such mechanisms could enable applications as diverse as minimally invasive surgery (e.g. ultra-compact mechanisms capable of specified tasks but facilitate smaller incisions) and aerospace applications (e.g. lightweight mechanisms that conform to fuselages).

About the Market:

Developable mechanisms can be used in applications as diverse as spacecraft, automobiles, ships, architecture, furniture, clothing, construction, and medical devices. They can also conform to or emerge from developable surfaces such as aircraft fuselages and wings, submarine hulls, rocket cones, and minimally invasive surgery tools. They make possible new mechanisms in highly constrained spaces (such as medical implants, next generation electronics equipment, and deployable aerospace components), and applications with limited manufacturing processes available (such as high-volume production and cost-sensitive applications).

For more information, contact Spencer Rogers (801-422-3676)

Links and Resources

  1. One Page Summary PDF
  2. Inventor Webpage
  3. Compliant Mechanisms Research Group Webpage