Load bearing performance of mechanical joints inspired by elbow of quadrupedal mammals

  • Sanz Idirin Aliona
  • Arroyave-Tobón Santiago
  • Linares Jean-Marc
  • Arrazola Pedro

  • Mechanical joints
  • Revolute joint
  • Elbow
  • Articular morphology
  • Bioinspiration
  • Contact pressure


One of the biggest issues of the mechanical cylindrical joints is related to premature wear appearing. This application of bioinspiration principles in an engineering context taking advantage of smart solutions offered by nature in terms of kinematic joints could be a way of solving those problems. This work is focused on joints of one DOF in rotation (revolute or ginglymus joints in biological terms), as this is one of the most common type of mechanical joints. This type of joints can be found in the elbow of some quadrupedal mammals. The articular morphology of the elbow of these animals differs in the presence/absence of a trochlear sulcus. In this study, bio-inspired mechanical joints based on these morphologies (with/without trochlear sulcus) were designed and numerically tested. Their load bearing performance was numerically analysed. This was done through contact simulations using the finite element method under different external loading conditions (axial load, radial load and turnover moment). Results showed that the tested morphologies behave differently in transmission of external mechanical loads. It was found that bio-inspired joints without trochlea sulcus showed to be more specialized in the bearing of turnover moments. Bioinspired joints with trochlea sulcus are more suitable for supporting combined loads (axial and radial load and turnover moments). Learning about the natural rules of mechanical design can provide new insights to improve the design of current mechanical joints.