Gravity Balancing Flexure Spring Mechanisms for Shoulder Support in Assistive Orthoses
preprintposted on 31.03.2021, 03:40 by Martin Tschiersky, Edsko E. G. Hekman, Just L. Herder, Dannis M. Brouwer
Passive shoulder supports show large potential for a wide range of applications, such as assisting activities of daily living and supporting work-related tasks. The rigid architectures of currently available devices, however, may pose an obstacle to finding designs that offer low protrusion and close-to-the-body alignment. This study explores the use of mechanisms that employ a flexible element which connects the supported arm to an attachment at the back and acts as energy storage, transmission and part of the load bearing structure. Based on the synthesis method explained in this paper, we conducted a large scope investigation into possible flexure-based mechanism topologies. Many potential designs were discovered and are presented, categorized and compared. Two promising designs were developed into prototypes that were built and tested on a dedicated test bench. These mechanisms reduce the necessary moment to lift the arm by more than 80 % throughout 85 % of the range of motion, while staying within 18 cm and 10 cm distance from the body, respectively. Our study indicates that, due to its lower protrusion and interface loads, a design with a tapered flexure connecting the upper arm via a hinge to a spring loaded slider at the back offers the most promising solution.
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