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80 Int. J. Mechanisms and Robotic Systems, Vol. 3, No.

1, 2016

Dimensional synthesis of six-bar Stephenson III


mechanism for 12 precision points path generation

Khalid Nafees* and Aas Mohammad


Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Jamia Millia Islamia,
New Delhi 110025, India
Email: khalidnafees@gmail.com
Email: amohammad1@jmi.ac.in
Email: am200647@gmail.com
*Corresponding author

Abstract: The technological advancements require sophisticated


manufacturing procedures wherein requirement to design mechanisms that can
precisely follow a specified path through a given number of precision points are
to be fulfilled. With these objectives, a six-bar Stephenson III linkage
mechanism, having one degree of freedom has been dimensionally synthesised
for 12 precision points. The complex number dyadic and triadic loop closure
equations have been used to synthesise the mechanism for path generation. In
this approach, loop closure equations are solved simultaneously for 12
displacement positions of coupler tracing point and 12 orientation positions of
various links for which the output link oscillates. The prescribed parameters are
displacement vector (δj) and coupler link motion and the designer is not
constrained to restrict the remaining orientation angles of links. Finally, a code
has been developed in MATLAB to solve these loop closure equations for
determination of the dimensional length of each link.

Keywords: link length; loop closure equation; mechanism synthesis; path


generation; precision points; six-bar mechanism; Stephenson III.

Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Nafees, K. and


Mohammad, A. (2016) ‘Dimensional synthesis of six-bar Stephenson III
mechanism for 12 precision points path generation’, Int. J. Mechanisms and
Robotic Systems, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.80–90.

Biographical notes: Khalid Nafees received his BE and MTech from the
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi,
India. He was a gold medallist at UG and PG level. Currently, he is pursuing
PhD from Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia,
New Delhi. He has published in national and international conferences and
journals. His fields of interest are mechanism synthesis, machine drawing and
machine design.

Dr. Aas Mohammad received his MTech from IIT, New Delhi, India and PhD
from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia,
New Delhi, India. Currently, he is working as an Associate Professor at
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi,
India. He has 21 years of teaching experience. He has guided many MTech and
PhD students in their research work. He has extensive publications in various

Copyright © 2016 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.


Dimensional synthesis of six-bar Stephenson III mechanism 81

reputed National and International journals and conferences. His fields of


interest are mechanics, mechanism and machine theory, engineering graphics,
finite element analysis and robotic manipulators.

1 Introduction

The dimensional synthesis is the last phase in mechanism synthesis that deals with the
determination of principal kinematic dimensions, i.e., link lengths, pivot-to-pivot
distances on binary, ternary and so on, cam profile dimensions, eccentricities, gear ratios,
etc. It determines the starting position of mechanism, which is usually specified by way
of an angular position of an input link with respect to the fixed link of reference. The
synthesis problem is performed for three common tasks, namely, path generation,
function generation and rigid body guidance. The latter two are rarely discussed in this
paper as the main focus is on path generation.
The path generation is the most important method used in mechanism synthesis for
industrial application that requires precise motion control along a specified path. The
major decisions required for complete synthesis are: different linkage selections, their
type, number and dimensions. Many methods for the path generation using mechanisms
of different number of links and their joints have been proposed by several researchers.
Bulatovic and Djordjevic (2004) optimally synthesised a four-bar mechanism using
H-J optimisation method wherein tracer point passes through straight line comprising of
16 desired coupler points. Ullah and Kota (1997) optimally synthesised a four-bar
mechanism using a stochastic global algorithm. Smaili, Diab and Atallah (2005) applied
tabu-gradient search algorithm to dimensionally synthesise a four-bar mechanism
wherein they obtained global minimal solution by a gradient search. Smaili and Diab
(2007) suggested an anti-gradient technique for path generation of planar kinematic
linkage. Laribi et al. (2004) proposed a combined genetic algorithm-fuzzy logic method
for the synthesis of path generation mechanism. Acharyya and Mandal (2009) highlighted
the advantages of DE algorithm in minimising the error in the synthesis of four-bar
mechanism. Erkaya and Uzmay (2008) designed an optimum path generator consisting of
four bars with specified revolute joint clearances using ANN and GA based on the
minimisation of path and transmission angle errors. Zhou and Cheung (2001) highlighted
that the magnitude of orientation structural error of the fixed link of given crank-rocker
mechanism is the total difference between the desired and generated paths, which is
formulated as the sum of squares of the differences between these paths over a number of
points. Zhou (2009) proposed dimensional synthesis of an adjustable four-bar mechanism
that follows a continuous path precisely. Final optimum solution is obtained by technique
of genetic algorithm. Mohammad and Kumar (2013) used a complex number dyadic loop
closure equation technique to dimensionally synthesise a six-bar mechanism for path
generation subjected to eight precision points.
In this research work, dimensional synthesis of a six-bar Stephenson III mechanism
that traces a curve defined by 12 precision points has been carried out. Section 2 explains
one application of this mechanism. The loop closure equations (dyadic and triadic) have
been derived for the dimensional synthesis. A code has been developed in MATLAB to
82 K. Nafees and A. Mohammad

solve these loop closure equations for determination of the dimensional length of
each link.

2 Six-bar mechanism application

When a four-bar mechanism is incapable to fulfil the requirement of a particular


application, then other mechanisms with single degree of freedom, e.g., six-bar linkage
mechanism, are employed. One such application is cassette tape cartridges whose
configuration is shown in Figure 1(a). It consists of a leader tape and a device through
which tape is passed and guided at the time of running operation. The final configuration
of tape should match with dashed line and in running operation the position should follow
numbers successively from 1 to 5. To guide the tape loop at positions 2, 3 and 5 properly
in the direction of travel, the following are the necessary requirements for the linkage:
1 The input crank link must rotate by complete revolution of 360°.
2 There should be a proper timely relationship between input crank rotation and the
position of the path points on successive numbers from 2 to 5.
3 Angular orientation of the coupler link must be specified at each prescribed position
for path generation.
The aforementioned requirements are fulfiled when Stephenson III linkage mechanism as
shown in Figure 1(b) is chosen. As this mechanism is not used nowadays due to
technological advancements, so the synthesis of six-bar mechanism discussed in this
work is not confined to this application only. Therefore, precision points are chosen
independently.

Figure 1 Configuration of cassette tape cartridges, an application of six-bar mechanism

Source: Sandor and Erdman (1991)


Dimensional synthesis of six-bar Stephenson III mechanism 83

3 Loop closure equation

The technique used for synthesising path generators is called as the loop closure equation
technique. The first or starting position of the kth bar can be written as:
Z k = Z k eiθ1 = Z k (cos θ1 + i sin θ1 ) (1)

where i = −1 , k = kth bar of the chain, Z k = Z k = length between the pivot of the bar
and the pivot on the slider in the first position, θ1 = arg, Z k = angle measured to vector
Z k from the real axis of a fixedly oriented rectangular coordinate system translating with
the pivot of the bar (counter clockwise rotations are positive).
For four-bar chain (Figure 2) with link vectors Z k , representing the mechanism loop,
the loop closure equation is written as follows:
4

∑Z
k =1
k =0 (2)

The equation of closure for the four bar linkage in its first position will be
Z 2 + Z 3 + Z 4 − Z1 = 0 (3)

Similarly, the equation of closure for the four bar linkage in its jth position will be
Z 2' + Z 3' + Z 4' − Z1 = 0 (4)

Using Z k' = Z k e j , above equation can be rewritten as
iφ iγ j iψ j
Z 2 e j + Z 3e + Z 4e − Z1 = 0 (5)

The aforementioned equation is known as a linear non-homogeneous displacement


iφ iγ
equation in complex unknowns Z1, Z2, Z3, Z4 and has complex coefficients e j , e j
iψ j
and e .

Figure 2 Four-bar mechanism for writing loop closure equation (see online version for colours)

Source: (Sandor and Erdman, 1991)


84 K. Nafees and A. Mohammad

4 Dimensional synthesis of a six-bar Stephenson III mechanism

The configuration of six-bar Stephenson III linkage mechanism is shown in Figure 3. The
link 1 is ternary link which is fixed at pivots O1, O2 and O3. The link 2 acts as a crank
which rotates about fixed point O1. The link 3 is ternary link whose point B mobility is
controlled by binary link 6 pivoted at fixed point O3. The link 4 is binary link with an
offset at point D. This point D is the tracing point for which the mechanism is to be
dimensionally synthesised. The link 5 is binary link which oscillates about fixed point O2.

Figure 3 Six-bar Stephenson III linkage mechanism

5 Derivation of loop closure equation

Consider the mobility of the given six-bar Stephenson III linkage mechanism (Figure 4)
between two positions when the crank O1A0 rotates through angle a1 and acquire position
O1Aj. The loop closure equations derived for this mechanism are given as follows:

Figure 4 Six-bar Stephenson III linkage mechanism displaced from home to prime position by δ
(see online version for colours)
Dimensional synthesis of six-bar Stephenson III mechanism 85

From Figure 4, writing the loop closure equations for independent vector loops
O1AjCjDjDoCoAoO1 is as follows:
i (a6 ) j i (a3 ) j i (a1 ) j
Z1 + Z 3 + Z 6 - δ j - Z 6 e - Z3 e - Z1 e =0
i (a1 ) j i (a3 ) j i (a6 ) j
(6)
Z1 [e - 1] + Z 3 [e - 1] + Z 6 [e - 1] = δ j
From Figure 4, writing the loop closure equations for independent vector loops
O3BjCjDjDoCoBoO3 is as follows:
i (a6 ) j i (a3 ) j i (a5 ) j
Z5 + Z 4 + Z 6 - δ j - Z 6 e - Z4 e - Z5 e =0 (∵ a4 = a3 )
i (a5 ) j i (a3 ) j i (a6 ) j
(7)
Z 5 [e - 1] + Z 4 [e - 1] + Z 6 [e - 1] = δ j
From Figure 4, writing the loop closure equations for independent vector loops
O2EjDjDoEoO2 is as follows:
i (a6 ) j i (a9 ) j
Z 9 + Z8 - δ j - Z8 e - Z9 e =0 (∵ a8 = a6 )
i (a9 ) j i (a6 ) j
(8)
Z 9 [e - 1] + Z 8 [e - 1] = δ j
From Figure 4, writing the loop closure equation for independent vector loop AjBjCj is as
follows:
Z 2 = Z3 – Z 4 (9)
From Figure 4, writing the loop closure equation for independent vector loop CjDjEj is as
follows:
Z 7 = Z 6 – Z8 (10)
From Figure 4, writing the loop closure equation for independent vector loop
O1AjCjDjEjO2O1 is as follows:
Z10 = Z1 + Z 3 + Z 6 – Z 8 – Z 9 (11)
From Figure 4, writing the loop closure equation for independent vector loop O1AjBjO3Cj
is as follows:
Z11 = Z1 + Z 2 – Z 5 (12)
where a1, a3, a5, a6 and a9 are the relative angular orientations of links O1A0, A0C0, O3C0,
C0D0, O2E0 with respect to home position. Equations from (6) to (12) are referred to as
kinematic synthesis equations.

6 Problem statement

It is required to synthesise a six-bar Stephenson III linkage (as shown in Figure 5) which
transmit motion along a path prescribed by 12 precision points: P1 (0.747, 0.382); P2
(0.709, 0.363); P3 (0.670, 0.347); P4 (0.573, 0.317); P5 (0.506, 0.317); P6 (0.486, 0.333);
P7 (0.502, 0.359); P8 (0.518, 0.361); P9 (0.599, 0.369); P10 (0.699, 0.388); P11 (0.785,
0.416); P12 (0.833, 0.434).
Designed parameters: The MATLAB code developed to solve the loop closure
equations solves for the following design vectors: Z1, Z2, Z3, Z4, Z5, Z6, Z7, Z8 Z9, Z10
and Z11.
86 K. Nafees and A. Mohammad

Prescribed parameters: The prescribed parameters are displacement (δj) of each point
from initial point P1, i.e., δj = Pj – P1 (where j = 1, 2,...12).
Assumed parameters: The following parameters have been assumed freely: a1j, a3j, a5j,
a6j and a9j. The ranges of variables of these orientations are (http://www.artas.nl/en/news/
item/34-sam-7-0): a1j [0, 2π], a3j [0, π/4], a5j [−π/4, 0], a6j [−π/6, 0] and a9j [0, π/6].

Figure 5 Six-bar Stephenson III linkage mechanism at 12 displaced positions (see online version
for colours)

7 Solution of loop closure equations

It is clear from Eqs. (6) to (12) that for j = 1, the number of unknowns is 11 and the
number of equations is 7 whereas for j = 1, 2,…12, the number of unknowns is 11 and the
number of equations is 40. Therefore, for a single precision point, the number of
unknowns is more than the number of equations whereas for 12 precision points, the case
is vice versa. Although, the minimum number of precision points required to determine
the solution of the loop closure equations is 3 but as per the problem, these equations
need to satisfy the displacement along the whole path that is prescribed by 12 precision
points. In order to determine the dimensions of the given six-bar Stephenson III linkage
mechanism that satisfies displacement for 12 prescribed precision points, the following
steps are involved in mathematical mechanism synthesis technique:
1 For j = 1, 2,…12, writing Eq. (6) in the general form as

Z1 [ei (a1 )1 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )1 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )1 − 1] = δ1 (13)

Z1 [ei (a1 )2 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )2 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )2 − 1] = δ 2 (14)

Z1 [ei (a1 )3 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )3 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )3 − 1] = δ 3 (15)

Z1 [ei (a1 )4 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )4 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )4 − 1] = δ 4 (16)


Dimensional synthesis of six-bar Stephenson III mechanism 87

Z1 [ei (a1 )5 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )5 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )5 − 1] = δ 5 (17)

Z1 [ei (a1 )6 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )6 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )6 − 1] = δ 6 (18)

Z1 [ei (a1 )7 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )7 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )7 − 1] = δ 7 (19)

Z1 [ei (a1 )8 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )8 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )8 − 1] = δ 8 (20)

Z1 [ei (a1 )9 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )9 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )9 − 1] = δ 9 (21)

Z1 [ei (a1 )10 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )10 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )10 − 1] = δ10 (22)

Z1 [ei (a1 )11 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )11 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )11 − 1] = δ11 (23)

Z1 [ei (a1 )12 − 1] + Z 3 [ei (a3 )12 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )12 − 1] = δ12 (24)

2 Solving Eqs. (13)–(24) simultaneously with the help of MATLAB code, we get
value of Z1, Z3 and Z6.
3 For j = 1, 2,…12, writing Eq. (7) in the general form as:

Z 5 [ei (a5 )1 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )1 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )1 − 1] = δ1 (25)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )2 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )2 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )2 − 1] = δ 2 (26)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )3 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )3 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )3 − 1] = δ 3 (27)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )4 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )4 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )4 − 1] = δ 4 (28)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )5 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )5 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )5 − 1] = δ 5 (29)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )6 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )6 − 1]+Z 6 [ei (a6 )6 − 1] = δ 6 (30)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )7 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )7 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )7 − 1] = δ 7 (31)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )8 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )8 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )8 − 1] = δ 8 (32)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )9 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )9 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )9 − 1] = δ 9 (33)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )10 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )10 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )10 − 1] = δ10 (34)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )11 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )11 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )11 − 1] = δ11 (35)

Z 5 [ei (a5 )12 − 1] + Z 4 [ei (a3 )12 − 1] + Z 6 [ei (a6 )12 − 1] = δ12 (36)

4 Considering value of Z6 obtained in Step 2 and solving Eqs. (25)–(36)


simultaneously with the help of MATLAB code, we get value of Z5 and Z4.
5 For j = 1, 2,…12, writing the Eq. (8) in the general form as:
88 K. Nafees and A. Mohammad

Z 9 [ei (a9 )1 - 1] + Z8 [ei (a6 )1 - 1] = δ1 (37)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )2 - 1] + Z 8 [ei (a6 )2 - 1] = δ 2 (38)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )3 - 1] + Z 8 [ei (a6 )3 - 1] = δ 3 (39)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )4 - 1] + Z 8 [ei (a6 )4 - 1] = δ 4 (40)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )5 - 1] + Z 8 [ei (a6 )5 - 1] = δ 5 (41)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )6 - 1] + Z 8 [ei (a6 )6 - 1] = δ 6 (42)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )7 - 1] + Z 8 [ei (a6 )7 - 1] = δ 7 (43)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )8 - 1] + Z 8 [ei (a6 )8 - 1] = δ 8 (44)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )9 - 1] + Z 8 [ei (a6 )9 - 1] = δ 9 (45)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )10 - 1] + Z8 [ei (a6 )10 - 1] = δ10 (46)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )11 - 1] + Z8 [ei (a6 )11 - 1] = δ11 (47)

Z 9 [ei (a9 )12 - 1] + Z8 [ei (a6 )12 - 1] = δ12 (48)

6 Solving Eqs. (37)–(48) simultaneously with the help of MATLAB code, we get
value of Z9 and Z8.
7 Based on the values of Z1, Z3, Z6, Z5, Z4, Z9 and Z8 obtained in Steps 1–6, determining
the values of Z2, Z7, Z10 and Z11 using Eqs. (9)–(12), respectively.
8 The link dimensions obtained in Step 7 are optimised using MATLAB code and the
absolute value of each link along with its orientation is expressed in Table 1.

8 Results and discussion

In this paper, we summarise the state of the art in mechanism synthesis by dimensionally
synthesising a six-bar Stephenson III linkage mechanism having one degree of freedom
for 12 precision points. Many researchers have performed the dimensional synthesis work
of different mechanisms, but their synthesis is confined to 8 precision points. In this
work, a six-bar Stephenson III linkage mechanism has been synthesised for 12 precision
points. The complex number dyadic and triadic loop closure equations have been written
and solved simultaneously for 12 displacement positions for which the output link
oscillates. Finally, these loop closure equations are solved and optimised using MATLAB
code, which gives output of design vector that represents the link lengths tabulated in
Table 1. The final solution is also shown in Figure 6.
Dimensional synthesis of six-bar Stephenson III mechanism 89

Table 1 Final vector representation of each link with its absolute value and orientation

Vector representation of
each link Absolute value of each link Orientation of each link
Z1 = 0.0878 + 0.1596i |Z1| = 0.182 ∠Z1 = 61.12°
Z2 = 0.3875 − 0.0281i |Z2| = 0.389 ∠Z2 = −04.15°
Z3 = 0.4303 − 0.0969i |Z3| = 0.441 ∠Z3 = −12.69°
Z4 = 0.0428 − 0.0688i |Z4| = 0.081 ∠Z4 = −58.11°
Z5 = 0.1875 − 0.3135i |Z5| = 0.365 ∠Z5 = −59.12°
Z6 = 0.0843 + 0.0147i |Z6| = 0.086 ∠Z6 = 09.89°
Z7 = 0.2149 + 0.2906i |Z7| = 0.361 ∠Z7 = 53.52°
Z8 = −0.1305 − 0.2758i |Z8| = 0.305 ∠Z8 = 244.68°
Z9 = −0.1088 + 0.3895i |Z9| = 0.405 ∠Z9 = 105.61°
Z10 = 0.8419 − 0.0362i |Z10| = 0.843 ∠Z10 = −2.46°
Z11 = 0.2877 + 0.4450i |Z11| = 0.530 ∠Z11 = 57.12°

Figure 6 Six-bar Stephenson III linkage mechanism representing final dimensions of each link

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