This paper considers an optimization model and a solution method for the design of two-dimensional mechanical mechanisms. The mechanism design problem is modeled as a nonconvex mixed integer program which allows the optimal topology and geometry of the mechanism to be determined simultaneously. The underlying mechanical analysis model is based on a truss representation allowing for large displacements. For mechanisms undergoing large displacements elastic stability is of major concern. We derive conditions, modeled by nonlinear matrix inequalities, which guarantee that a stable equilibrium is found and that buckling is prevented. The feasible set of the design problem is described by nonlinear differentiable and non-differentiable constraints as well as nonlinear matrix inequalities. To solve the mechanism design problem a branch and bound method based on convex relaxations is developed. To guarantee convergence of the method, two different types of convex relaxations are derived. The relaxations are strengthened by adding valid inequalities to the feasible set and by solving bound contraction sub-problems. Encouraging computational results indicate that the branch and bound method can reliably solve mechanism design problems of realistic size to global optimality.
- mechanism design
- branch and bound