Design, modelling and simulation of 2 novel 6 DOF hybrid machines.
Industrial robot arms are an essential part of automated manufacturing, and perform tasks such as component assembly, welding, light machining, spray painting, etc. They are highly repeatable, can be calibrated to be sufficiently accurate and they eliminate human error. The serial robot architecture is by far the most ubiquitous in modern day manufacturing, as the technology is highly refined in its current state; the machine architecture provides great dexterity and it has a large useful workspace. This architecture however does have some problems, one of which is a large machine moving mass. The primary reason for this lies in the location of its motors and gearboxes. Due to the robot's significant inertia it utilizes a large amount of energy. This thesis focused on the mechanical design, mathematical modelling and simulation of 2 robotic arm designs which had a hybrid nature. They were classified as hybrid due to the fact that their architectures departed from both the classic definitions of serial kinematics manipulators/machines (SKMs) and parallel kinematics manipulators/machines (PKMs). The primary design goal was to merge some of the advantages of both architectures, i.e. a large workspace to footprint ratio and high end-effector dexterity which was found in serial robots, combined with the low inertia of a parallel robot for improved dynamics. Serial and parallel robots were complementary, and these design goals could not co-exist in a single purist robot architecture. The designs had a full complement of 6 DOFs (degrees of freedom), 3 DOFs for spatial position of the wrist and 3 DOFs for orientation of that wrist. They also had a lower machine moving mass, a fact that was thought to improve speed and energy usage. A major contribution of this research PhD project was a comparative energy usage study, which was performed against the serial robot as a measure. This was done for both hybrid designs as well as another model which represented 2 existing patented designs. The purpose of that was to determine if lowering the machine moving mass would improve energy efficiency, and to determine which design was best.