A Variable Clutch Mechanism for Adjustable Stiffness Actuators Based on Bending and Torsion of Prismatic Beams

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Reis M., Tüfekci K.

Actuators, vol.12, no.8, pp.1-12, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/act12010008
  • Journal Name: Actuators
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-12
  • Keywords: elastic, adjustable, clutch, beam, actuator, bending, torsion, DESIGN
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


Today, a major obstacle to developing locomotion mechanisms that are as safe and energy efficient as living organisms has been overcome with the development of actuators with adjustable stiffness. This work presents an innovative clutch mechanism whose stiffness can be adjusted based on the combined bending and torsion of the prismatic beams. In this way, the stiffness of any rotary actuator can be adjusted with the help of this clutch mechanism. The adjustable clutch mechanism consists of elastic prismatic beams placed in any position in the power transmission unit. The stiffness of the clutch mechanism is controlled by varying the active clutch length of these prismatic elastic beams using an additional actuator. This work is a new version developed to solve the mechanical problems observed in our previous studies using elastic cylindrical beams. Cylindrical beams subjected to dynamic bending have a higher risk of cracking on the cylindrical surface over time. The cross-section of cylindrical beams subjected to bending is very narrow at the point furthest from the center, which bears the greatest load in bending. For this reason, it has been observed that the beams break due to micro-cracks on the surfaces of the cylindrical beams in long-term use. However, the rectangular beam proposed as a solution to this mechanical problem is subject to combined torsion and bending, complicating the analytical solution. In this study, the stiffness variation of an adjustable elastic coupling mechanism depending on the coupling length was obtained with a simplified discrete analytical approach. Torsional and bending stiffness of the prismatic beams were calculated separately, and their sum gave the angular stiffness of the actuator. The analytical results obtained using this simple approach are compared with the experimental and finite element analysis results. The results show that the current design can adjust the stiffness over a wide range and the simple analytical approach gives more accurate results as the clutch length increases.