Alternative for springs with constant stiffness
Mechanical springs are used in almost all mechanisms. They can be used to reduce shocks, apply a force, store energy or change natural frequencies. The major drawback is that the spring stiffness is constant, and thus is chosen during design and optimized for one working condition. Active controllable springs exist, but these devices consume continuously power, which is the reason why they are usually avoided to lower operating costs.
This design realizes a torsion spring, of which the stiffness is changeable during normal operation. Since only standard components are used, the cost of implementation of this new technology into existing applications is low. It has a limited number of design parameters, which simplifies the implementation, although gives enough freedom to tune the characteristics for each specific application. The device is scalable and the power source used to vary the stiffness may be electrical, pneumatic or hydraulic. During normal operation as a torsion spring no power is required, only when the stiffness is varied. This can be done at every moment in time during normal operation. A demo setup is built to show the working principle.
This design has a number of advantages, depending on the application.