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This paper presents a new method developed for the optimal design of piezoactive compliant micromechanisms. It is based on a flexible building block method, called FlexIn (flexible innovation), which uses an evolutionary approach, to optimize a truss-like planar structure made of passive and active building blocks, made of piezoelectric material. An electromechanical approach, based on a mixed finite-element formulation, is used to establish the model of the active piezoelectric blocks. From the first design step, in addition to conventional mechanical criteria, innovative control-based metrics can be considered in the optimization procedure to fit the open-loop frequency response of the synthesized mechanisms. In particular, these criteria have been drawn here to optimize modal controllability and observability of the system, which is particularly interesting when considering control of flexible structures. Then, a planar monolithic compliant microactuator has been synthesized using FlexIn and prototyped. Finally, simulations and experimental tests of the FlexIn optimally synthesized device demonstrate the interests of the proposed optimization method for the design of microactuators, microrobots, and more generally for adaptronic structures.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2009