The objective of this paper is to design a generic zero stiffness compliant joint. This compliant joint could be used as a generic construction element in a compliant mechanism. To avoid the spring-back behavior of conventional compliant joints, the principle of static balancing is applied, implying that for each position of the joint the total potential energy should be constant. To this end, a conventional balanced mechanism, consisting of two pivoted bodies which are balanced with two zero-free-length springs, is taken as an initial concept. The joint is replaced by a compliant cross-axis flexural pivot and each spring is replaced by a pair of compliant leaf springs. For both parts an analytic model was implemented and a configuration with the lowest energy fluctuation was found through optimization. A FEA model was used to verify the analytic model of the optimized design. A prototype was manufactured and tested. Both the FEA model and the experiment confirm the reduction of the needed moment to rotate the compliant joint. The experiment shows the balanced compliant joint is not completely balanced but the moment required to rotate the joint is reduced by 70%. Thus, a statically balanced compliant generic joint element was designed which bears great promise in designing statically balanced compliant mechanisms and making this accessible to any designer.

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