A unified procedure for the synthesis of planar linkages that may take the form of rigid body, fully compliant or partially compliant mechanisms is presented. The procedure automates the selection of mechanism topology as characterized by the number and connectivity of the links as well as the nature of the connections between the links, the mechanism shape as characterized by the shapes of the individual links, and the mechanism dimensions which include the locations of the joints and the cross-sectional dimensions of the links. The synthesis task is posed as an optimization problem and is solved by a hybrid, elite-preserving genetic algorithm. Three examples of compact mechanisms that trace different non-smooth paths in response to a single, monotonic and bounded force input are used to illustrate the synthesis capability of the procedure. Prototypes of the designs are built and tested to verify their performance.

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