Research ArticleFRONT MATTER

Developable mechanisms on developable surfaces

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Science Robotics  13 Feb 2019:
Vol. 4, Issue 27, eaau5171
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aau5171

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Abstract

The trend toward smaller mechanism footprints and volumes, while maintaining the ability to perform complex tasks, presents the opportunity for exploration of hypercompact mechanical systems integrated with curved surfaces. Developable surfaces are shapes that a flat sheet can take without tearing or stretching, and they represent a wide range of manufactured surfaces. This work introduces “developable mechanisms” as devices that emerge from or conform to developable surfaces. They are made possible by aligning hinge axes with developable surface ruling lines to enable mobility. Because rigid-link motion depends on the relative orientation of hinge axes and not link geometry, links can take the shape of the corresponding developable surface. Mechanisms are classified by their associated surface type, and these relationships are defined and demonstrated by example. Developable mechanisms show promise for meeting unfilled needs using systems not previously envisioned.

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