Differential mechanisms are remarkable mechanical elements that are widely utilized in various systems; nevertheless, conventional differential mechanisms are heavy and difficult to use in applications with limited design space. In this paper, a curved lightweight compliant type of differential mechanism is presented. This mechanism acquires its differential characteristic by having a high rotational stiffness when the mechanism is symmetrically actuated on two sides, while having a low rotational stiffness when actuated only on one side. The intrinsic elastic strain energy required for deformation of the compliant differential is compensated for by reintroduction of potential energy to make the mechanism neutrally stable. For the storage of potential energy, two preloaded linear springs were used. The rotational stiffness of the one-sided actuation around the neutral position of the compliant differential mechanism is hypothesized to be adjustable by changing the preload of the springs. The stiffness can be positive, zero, and negative, meaning that the mechanism can have neutral stability and bistability. The hypothesis is investigated using a simulated model in Ansys Parametric Design Language using optimized parameters to achieve the desired stiffness for the mechanism. The simulated model is validated using an experimental setup for both the one-sided and symmetrical actuation stages. The experimental results showed a high correlation with the simulations. The mechanism with optimized dimensions and preload showed neutral stability for a range of 16°. Bistability was found for preloads higher than the aforementioned optimized preload. A linear trend was found between the preload of the springs and the rotational stiffness of the mechanism at θ = 0. Furthermore, an output/input kinematic performance of 0.97 was found for the simulated results and 0.95 for the experimental results.

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