We describe mechanisms such as pliers as being conventional mechanisms. Tweezers, however, are compliant mechanisms. There is a huge variety and quantity of conventional mechanisms. A tool such as pliers is just a simple example. Conventional mechanisms are developed with as much complexity as needed and for extremely diverse purposes, being used anywhere and everywhere: from the nut cracker in the kitchen drawer to the stapler on the desk - even as far as to the production and packaging plant that is hundreds of metres long and produces the things that fill our shopping trolleys.
In principle, for most purposes that are handled by conventional mechanisms, it is possible to develop a compliant mechanism. Yet compliant mechanisms can also serve purposes that are inconceivable for conventional systems, such as creating highly resilient aeroplane wings whose geometry is subtly alterable, mimicking nature.
The design of compliant mechanisms (or systems) has its own rules to follow. The classical kinematic methods cannot be applied to this new class of mechanical systems. It is common for special analytical and optimisation procedures to be enacted in order to create designs that meet requirements. This is due to the multifunctional nature of these systems: in contrast to conventional mechanisms, with compliant systems there is no distinction made between load-bearing and motion-generating components. For this reason, the balance of deformability and loading capacity must be optimised at every point of the mechanism.
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