A new type of spherical flexure joint based on tetrahedron elements

Jelle Rommers*, Volkert van der Wijk, Just L. Herder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we present two new designs of spherical flexure joints, which are the compliant equivalent of a traditional ball-and-socket joint. The designs are formed by tetrahedron-shaped elements, each composed of three blade flexures with a trapezoidal shape, that are connected in series without intermediate bodies. This is new with respect to the designs currently found in literature and helps to increase the range of motion. We also present two planar (x-y-θz) flexure joint designs which were derived as special versions of the spherical designs. In these designs the tetrahedron elements have degenerated to a triangular prisms. For detailed investigation we developed equivalent representations of the tetrahedron and triangular prism elements and proved that three of the four constraint stiffness terms depend solely on the properties of the main blade flexure. Furthermore, we derived equations for these stiffness terms which are compared to finite-element simulations, showing a good correspondence for the prism element with a Normalized Mean Absolute Error (NMAE) of 1.9%. For the tetrahedron element, the equations showed to only capture the qualitative behaviour with a NMAE of 34.9%. Also, we derived an equation for the optimal width of the prism element regarding rotational stiffness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-140
JournalPrecision Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Compliant mechanism
  • Flexure
  • Planar joint
  • Spherical joint
  • Tetrahedron


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