Carl Bugeja Demonstrates PCB
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Carl Bugeja Demonstrates PCB

Aug 09, 2023

The latest project video from Carl Bugeja cleverly combines several techniques to create a electrically actuated flexure bearings using materials and processes available from PCB vendors.

A flexure bearing is a part with two rigid structures joined by a thin area that acts as a hinge. For example, think of a container with an attached plastic lid that snaps shut. Bugeja combined that idea with flexible PCB actuators to produce an electrically-controlled bearing that deforms to generate motion.

As with previous projects, the video documents the initial design idea, several variations, and the need for iterations. Initially, Bugeja made five different flexure designs. A PCB fab manufactured the bearing frame, flexure hinge, and adhesive. The only material Bugeja had to add was the magnet.

Several designs, like the spring style, were too fragile to be reliably assembled or used. However, what Bugeja calls the "zig-zag design" performed the best of the 40 variations tested, which leads to the question of what could such a device do.

Bugeja explored five potential applications for the flexure bearing. The most practical option is a sound generation device, which is unsurprising since the entire structure resembles a speaker.

The most eye-catching attempt was a pop-up display that emulates a seven-segment display. Unfortunately, Bugeja encountered problems installing the magnets, so the video does not show an entire digit as functional. Instead, only two elements were loaded. Even more unfortunate, the result was not a flipping mechanism.

Bugeja closes the video with ideas on how to use this design technique for flaps and hints he may have some other ideas in the works. You must check out the full video because the still images do not give this flexure bearing justice.