Compliant mechanisms, unlike rigid-body mechanisms, gain some or all of their mobility from the flexibility of their members. Complaint mechanisms are desirable since they require fewer parts, and have less wear, noise, and backlash than their rigid-body counterpart mechanisms. The field of compliant mechanisms is expected to continue to grow as materials with superior properties are developed. Inasmuch as evolution of efficient design techniques is viewed as an essential research activity, a parallel, systematic development of appropriate vocabulary (nomenclature, classification, etc.) is of primary importance. This paper proposes a standard nomenclature for the components of compliant mechanisms and discusses the relevant issues involved in this process. Definitions for components, such as “links” and “joints,” remove ambiguity that has been associated with these terms in the past. Names and diagrams are discussed, and are shown to be similar because they represent “abstractions” of the same mechanisms. The concept of “levels of abstraction” is introduced, and common levels of abstraction are identified. A concerted effort is made to be consistent with current literature on both rigid-body mechanisms and compliant mechanisms whenever possible.

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