Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Craig Lusk


bistable, compliant mechanisms, kinematics, pseudo-rigid-body model, virtual work


This paper presents designs for Multistable Shape-Shifting Surfaces (MSSS) by introducing bistability into the Shape-Shifting Surface (SSS). SSSs are defined as surfaces that retain their effectiveness as a physical barrier while undergoing changes in shape. The addition of bistability to the SSS gives the surface multiple distinct positions in which it remains when shifted to, i.e. by designing bistability into a single SSS link, the SSS unit cell can change into multiple shapes, and stabilize within the resulting shape, while maintaining integrity against various forms of external assaults normal to its surface. Planar stable configurations of the unit cell include, expanded, compressed, sheared, half-compressed, and partially-compressed, resulting in the planar shapes of a large square, small square, rhombus, rectangle, and trapezoid respectively. Tiling methods were introduced which gave the ability to produce out-of-plane assemblies using planar MSSS unit cells. A five-walled rigid storage container prototype was produced that allowed for numerous stable positions and volumes. Applications for MSSSs can include size-changing vehicle beds, expandable laptop screens, deformable walls, and volume-changing rigid-storage containers. Analysis of the MSSS was done using pseudo-rigid-Body Models (PRBMs) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) which ensured bistable characteristics before prototypes were fabricated.