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This paper presents an optimal design of a parallel manipulator aiming to perform pick-and-place operations at high speed and high acceleration. After reviewing existing architectures of high-speed and high-acceleration parallel manipulators, a new design of a 4-DOF parallel manipulator is presented, with an articulated traveling plate, which is free of internal singularities and is able to achieve high performances. The kinematic and simplified, but realistic, dynamic models are derived and validated on a manipulator prototype. Experimental tests show that this design is able to perform beyond the high targets, i.e., it reaches a speed of 5.5 m/s and an acceleration of 165 m/s2. The experimental prototype was further optimized on the basis of kinematic and dynamic criteria. Once the motors, gear ratio, and several link lengths are determined, a modified design of the articulated traveling plate is proposed in order to reach a better dynamic equilibrium among the four legs of the manipulator. The obtained design is the basis of a commercial product offering the shortest cycle times among all robots available in today's market.
Date of Publication: April 2009