Precision Balancing, Static Balance in Precision Engineering – Dr. Jan de Jong, University of Twente

Unbalance can be quite unpleasant. In this tutorial, we treat static balancing of machines and mechanisms. This design principle aim to improve the mechanism’s performance by cancelling the static loads such as gravity. This results in lamps, hospital equipment and bridges that seem to float and move with zero effort. In these statically balanced mechanisms, cleverly designed springs or counterweights counteract the pull of gravity (and other loads) and keep the mechanism upright. This principle is used in precision engineering too, for example to reduce the required motor power and associated heat production, or to reduce the apparent stiffness of a mechanism and tune its natural frequency.

This tutorial treats the fundamentals, applications and state-of-the-art of this balancing principles. By showing examples, it aims to provide an overview on static balance. What are the pro’s and con’s? When to use and when not to use?


  • The basic balancer
  • The Anglepoise lamp; transformation rules
  • Constant force mechanisms
  • Adapting to varying payloads
  • Sources of balance
  • Static balance of compliant mechanisms
  • Future directions

Dr. Jan de Jong, University of Twente

“The inventor of LEGO should have received the Nobel Peace Prize” – G. de Jong (father of Jan de Jong). How stuff moves fascinated Jan as a kid and it still does. In his current role as assistant professor, he translates design principles for precision mechanisms to other fields, such as medical devices and agro-food robotics. He received a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and a professional doctorate in engineering (PDEng) on the design of a medical robot to apply transcranial magnetic stimulation during treadmill walking. Later he obtained his doctorate in the field of precision engineering on the dynamic balance of spatially moving manipulators. His research interests include the kinematics and dynamics of (parallel) mechanisms, grippers, flexure mechanisms, screw theory. He is married and has two children. He practices a range of dynamic activities such as squash, ATB and futsal and still plays with LEGO.