On modeling the bending stiffness of thin semi-circular flexure hinges for precision applications
Compliant mechanisms based on flexure hinges are widely used in precision engineering applications. Among those are devices such as precision balances and mass comparators with achievable resolutions and uncertainties in the nano-newton range. The exact knowledge of the mechanical properties of notch hinges and their modeling is essential for the design and the goal-oriented adjustment of these devices. It is shown in this article that many analytical equations available in the literature for calculating the bending stiffness of thin semi-circular flexure hinges cause deviations of up to 12% compared to simulation results based on the three-dimensional finite element model for the considered parameter range. A close examination of the stress state within the loaded hinge reveals possible reasons for this deviation. The article explains this phenomenon in detail and shows the limitations of existing analytical models depending on specific geometric ratios. An accurate determination of the bending stiffness of semi-circular flexure hinges in a wide range of geometric parameters without the need for an elaborate finite element analysis is proposed in form of FEM-based correction factors for analytical equations referring to Euler-Bernoulli's beam theory.