Featured Flex-to-Function Designs
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This software tool can't produce everything that we show possible with compliant design, but it's a start!
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FlexSys Inc. is a specialty engineering firm that develops and licenses intellectual property to reduce complexity and improve performance of client products. In 2000, Dr. Sridhar Kota founded the company to develop and commercialize his patented design of a shape-morphing adaptive control surface for airfoils. As a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan since 1987, Dr. Kota initiated research in compliant mechanisms in the 1990s and pioneered the bio-inspired concept of Distributed Compliance. In 2015, the 15 year development of FlexFoil™ culminated in successful flight testing by Nasa and the Air Force leading to a Joint Venture with Aviation Partners. With a projected 5-12% in reduced fuel burn from its application, it is expected to be on commercial aircraft by 2020. For more on FlexSys and FlexFoil, visit Flxsys.com
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Wiper - from 15 parts to 3
FlexSys designed, prototyped and tested a new wiper design for a major automaker. By using Distributed Compliant Design methods, we reduced part count from 15 to three. The new wiper design is injection molded of 33% glass filled PBT and won a 2016 JEC Innovation Award. It out performs legacy wipers by delivering more evenly distributed pressure to the glass. It can be made in the USA for less than importing. This one is custom designed and includes the arm. But the patented design is currently available for other automakers or aftermarket makers.
Side Mirror Actuator - from 18 parts to 7
By using Distributed Compliant Design methods and some out-of-the-box thinking, this side mirror actuator was reduced to 7 parts for a 40% cost savings over those benchmarked. Some had as many as 29 parts. This patented design has been prototype tooled and is currently available for licensing.
Even the common stapler - from 18 parts to 3
One day, Professor Kota was standing before his mechanical engineering class explaining the concept of Compliant Systems Design. He picked up a stapler nearby and exclaimed; "There are items all around us that can benefit from using compliant design. I'm sure that even this stapler could be reduced to just a couple parts using this unconventional way of thinking and designing." A masters student took him up on it and re-imagined the stapler into a single joint-less shape that could drop out of an injection molding machine, with two insert molded metal pieces. To this day, it is one of the best examples of thinking out-of-the-box and how compliant systems design can drastically reduce part count. Read the 2015 article in Mechanical Engineering Magazine here.