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  1. Abstract This paper presents a design methodology for mechanisms consisting of a single continuous structure, continuum mechanisms, that blends the kinematic synthesis of rigid-body mechanisms with topology optimization for compliant mechanisms. Rather than start with a generic structure that is shaped to achieve a required force deflection task for a compliant mechanism, our approach shapes the initial structure based on kinematic synthesis of a rigid body mechanism for the required movement, then the structure is shaped using Finite Element Analysis to achieve the required force deflection relationship. The result of this approach is a continuum mechanism with the same workpiece movement as the rigid link mechanism when actuated. An example illustrates the design process to obtain an eight-bar linkage that guides its workpiece in straight-line rectilinear movement. We show that the resulting continuum mechanism provides the desired rectilinear movement. A 210 mm physical model machined from Nylon-6 is shown to achieve 21.5mm rectilinear movement with no perceived deviation from a straight-line.
  2. Abstract This paper presents an implementation of a homotopy path tracking algorithm for polynomial numerical continuation on a graphical processing unit (GPU). The goal of this algorithm is to track homotopy curves from known roots to the unknown roots of a target polynomial system. The path tracker solves a set of ordinary differential equations to predict the next step and uses a Newton root finder to correct the prediction so the path stays on the homotopy solution curves. In order to benefit from the computational performance of a GPU, we organize the procedure so it is executed as a single instruction set, which means the path tracker has a fixed step size and the corrector has a fixed number iterations. This trade-off between accuracy and GPU computation speed is useful in numerical kinematic synthesis where a large number of solutions must be generated to find a few effective designs. In this paper, we show that our implementation of GPU-based numerical continuation yields 85 effective designs in 63 s, while an existing numerical continuation algorithm yields 455 effective designs in 2 h running on eight threads of a workstation.
  3. Abstract This paper presents a new two-step design procedure and preliminary kinematic evaluation of a novel, passive, six-bar knee-ankle-foot orthosis (KAFO). The kinematic design and preliminary kinematic gait analysis of the KAFO are based on motion capture data from a single healthy male subject. Preliminary kinematic evaluation shows that the designed passive KAFO is capable of supporting flexion and extension of the knee joint during stance and swing phases of walking. The two-step design procedure for the KAFO consists of (1) computational synthesis based on user's motion data and (2) performance optimization. In the computational synthesis step, first the lower leg (knee-ankle-foot) of the subject is approximated as a 2R kinematic chain and its target trajectories are specified from motion capture data. Six-bar linkages are synthesized to coordinate the angular movements of knee and ankle joints of the 2R chain at 11 accuracy points. The first step of the design procedure yields 332 six-bar KAFO design candidates. This is followed by a performance optimization step in which the KAFO design candidates are optimally modified to satisfy specified constraints on end-effector trajectory and shape. This two-step process yields an optimally designed passive six-bar KAFO that shows promising kinematic results at themore »knee joint of the user during walking. The preliminary prototype manufactured is cost effective, easy to operate, and suitably demonstrates the feasibility of the proposed concept.« less
  4. In the design of practical grasping tools such as forceps or grippers, it may be desirable to create a compact, lightweight, and easily manufactured tool. Origami inspired designs can help simplify gripper manufacturing to a single planar sheet of material while still allowing for deployment and actuation. Inflatable structures can reduce weight and be compacted. This paper explores the design of an inflatable, deployable, action origami inspired gripper through the development of a predictive model, prototype fabrication, and preliminary design assessments.
  5. This paper presents a method to develop continuum/ compliant mechanisms based on planar bar-node linkage precursors. The method takes as inputs the initial node positions and connectivity data of a given bar-node linkage and converts it into a continuum/compliant mechanism having the same targeted motion. The line bars of the given bar-node linkage are thickened into trapezoidal planar members and the nodes are thickened by introducing fillets at each intersection of bars. The thicknesses of the bars and the shape parameters of the fillets in the continuum/compliant linkage are optimized to obtain the same targeted motion of the given bar-node linkage while keeping stresses below a maximum allowable value. Each design generated during the optimization process is evaluated using finite element analysis. The present method allows for the synthesis of mechanisms having the following advantages over conventional bar-node linkages: 1) They do not require complex ball or pin joints; 2) they can be readily 3-D printed and sizescaled, and 3) they can be optimized to decrease stresses below a maximum allowable value. Furthermore, the method uses a relatively small number of optimization variables (thicknesses of the members, shape-parameters of the fillets), making it an efficient alternative to more complex andmore »computationally intensive methods for synthesizing compliant mechanisms such as those incorporating topology optimization.« less
  6. This paper examines the results of synthesis algorithms for four-, six-, and eight-bar linkages for rectilinear movement. Rec- tilinear movement is useful for applications such as suspensions that provide linear movement with out a rotation component. The algorithm yields one four-bar, seven six-bar, and 32 eight- bar linkages. The synthesis strategy begins with a task guided by a multi-degree of freedom chain. The algorithm computes constraints to guide the required movement with one degree-of- freedom. Each computed design is analyzed to ensure smooth movement through the specified set of task positions. Finally, we identify the design that has the least variation from a pure recti- linear movement.
  7. This paper examines the results of synthesis algorithms for four-, six-, and eight-bar linkages for rectilinear movement. Rectilinear movement is useful for applications such as suspensions that provide linear movement with out a rotation component. The algorithm yields one four-bar, seven six-bar, and 32 eightbar linkages. The synthesis strategy begins with a task guided by a multi-degree of freedom chain. The algorithm computes constraints to guide the required movement with one degree-offreedom. Each computed design is analyzed to ensure smooth movement through the specified set of task positions. Finally, we identify the design that has the least variation from a pure rectilinear movement.