Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Xinyan Deng

Committee Member 1

Peter H. Meckl

Committee Member 2

Justin E. Seipel


A principle for designing and fabricating bio-inspired miniature artificial insect flapping wing using flexure rotational hinge design is presented. A systematic approach of selecting rotational hinge stiffness value is proposed. Based on the understanding of flapping wing aerodynamics, a dynamic simulation is constructed using the established quasi-steady model and the wing design. Simulations were performed to gain insight on how different parameters affect the wing rotational response. Based on system resonance a model to predict the optimal rotational hinge stiffness based on given wing parameter and flapping wing kinematic is proposed. By varying different wing parameters, the proposed method is shown to be applicable to a wide range of wing designs with different sizes and shapes. With the selected hinge stiffness value, aspects of the rotational joint design is discussed and an integrated wing-hinge structure design using laminated carbon fiber and polymer film is presented. Manufacturing process of such composite structure is developed to achieve high accuracy and repeatability. The yielded hinge stiffness is verified by measurements. To validate the proposed model, flapping wing experiments were conducted. A flapping actuation set up is built using DC motor and a controller is implemented on a microcontroller to track desired wing stroke kinematic. Wing stroke and rotation kinematic were extracted using a high speed camera and the lift generation is evaluated. A total of 49 flapping experiments were presented, experimental data shows good correlation with the model's prediction. With the wing rotational hinge stiffness designed so that the rotational resonant frequency is twice as the stroke frequency, the resulting wing rotation generates near optimal lift. With further simulation, the proposed model shows low sensitivity to wing parameter variation. As a result, giving a design parameter of a flapping wing robot platform, the proposed principle can predict the rotational hinge stiffness that leads to near optimal wing rotation. Further iteration can be done around the selected value and achieve the optimal lift generation.