Monolithic binary stiffness building blocks for mechanical digital machines

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We introduce two essential building blocks with binary stiffness for mechanical digital machines. The large scale fully compliant mechanisms have rectilinear and rotational kinematics and use a new V-shaped negative stiffness structure to create two extreme states of stiffness by static balancing. The use of a mechanical bistable switch allows us to toggle between near-zero-stiffness and high-stiffness states, effectively turning off and on stiffness. A stiffness reduction of 98.8% and 99.9% is achieved for linear and rotary motion over a range of 13.3% (20mm) and 0.4rad (23∘) respectively. Stiffness states can be reversibly changed by toggling the mechanical switch, or irreversibly by actuating the main stage. These binary stiffness mechanisms could set the stage for a new type of mechanical logic, adaptive and programmable metamaterials and other types of digital mechanical devices. Practical mechanical digital machines and materials require miniaturized and easily micro-manufactured components. We have therefore carefully considered scalability by integrating all required structures into a planar and monolithic architecture. This allows miniaturization and fabrication with conventional surface-micro-machining and additive manufacturing such as photolithography, two-photon lithography and fused deposition modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101120
Number of pages9
JournalExtreme Mechanics Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Digital mechanism
  • Mechanical logic
  • Metamaterials
  • Static balancing
  • Zero stiffness

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