This paper proposes a new class of bistable mechanisms: compliant bistable mechanisms. These mechanisms gain their bistable behavior from the energy stored in the flexible segments which deflect to allow mechanism motion. This approach integrates desired mechanism motion and energy storage to create bistable mechanisms with dramatically reduced part count compared to traditional mechanisms incorporating rigid links, joints, and springs. This paper briefly reviews bistable mechanism theory, introduces some additional bistable mechanism characteristics, and integrates this theory with compliant mechanism theory. The resulting theory of bistable compliant mechanisms is validated by measuring the force and motion characteristics of several test mechanisms and comparing them to predicted values.

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