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110 Int. J. Mechatronics and Automation, Vol. 3, No.

2, 2013

Analysis and suppression of residual vibration in

microhand for high-speed single-cell manipulation

Ebubekir Avci*, Chanh-Nghiem Nguyen, Kenichi Ohara,

Yasushi Mae and Tatsuo Arai
Department of Systems Innovation,
Graduate School of Engineering Science,
Osaka University,
1-3 Machikaneyama-cho, Toyonaka, Osaka, 560-8531, Japan
*Corresponding author

Abstract: Stable grasping of micro-objects at high speed is a desired feature for

micromanipulation systems. At high speed, however, the residual vibration tends to be greater. In
this paper, we analyse the residual vibration of the end effector of the microhand during the
high-speed grasping motion. Based on the analysis results, we propose suppression of residual
vibration in two steps. First, the stiffness of the end effector is increased by structural design.
Second, feedforward control is implemented since the behaviour of the vibration can predicted
for the specific conditions. Preliminary experimental results show that the settling time decreases
by 74% and the amplitude of the vibration by 47%.

Keywords: high-speed grasping; micromanipulation; vibration control; feedforward method.

Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Avci, E., Nguyen, C-N., Ohara, K., Mae, Y.
and Arai, T. (2013) ‘Analysis and suppression of residual vibration in microhand for high-speed
single-cell manipulation’, Int. J. Mechatronics and Automation, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.110–117.

Biographical notes: Ebubekir Avci is currently a PhD student at the Department of Systems
Innovation, Graduate School of Engineering Science, Osaka University. He received his BS in
Mechatronics from Faculty of Engineering and Natural Science, Sabanci University, Turkey, in
2008, and MS in Robotics from Graduate School of Engineering Science, Osaka University,
Japan, in 2010. His current research interests include parallel mechanisms, micro-robotics and
high-speed micro-manipulation.

Chanh-Nghiem Nguyen received his MS in Mechatronics from Asian Institute of Technology,

Pathumthani, Thailand in 2007. From 2007 to 2009, he was a Junior Lecturer at the Department
of Automation Technology, College of Engineering Technology, Can Tho University. He
received his PhD from Osaka University, Osaka, Japan in 2012. He is currently a Lecturer at the
Department of Automation Technology, College of Engineering Technology, Can Tho
University. His research interests include robot vision, wireless sensor network and multirotors.

Kenichi Ohara received his MS in Electrical Engineering from Shibaura Institute of Technology,
Tokyo, Japan, in 2004, and his PhD from the University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan, in 2008.
Since 2007, he has been a member of Ubiquitous Function Research Group, National Institute of
Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba. In 2007, he joined the Graduate School
of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, University of Tokyo, as an Assistant Professor. From
2008 to 2012, he was an Assistant Professor at Osaka University. He is currently an Associate
Professor at the Department of Systems Innovation, Graduate School of Engineering Science,
Osaka University. His research interests include robot vision, wireless sensor networks, and
middleware technology for robots.

Yasushi Mae received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Engineering from Osaka University,
Osaka, Japan in 1993, 1995, and 1998, respectively. From 1998 to 2004, he was a Research
Associate at the Graduate School of Engineering Science, Osaka University. From 2004 to 2007,
he was an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Fukui. He is currently
an Associate Professor at the Department of Systems Innovation, Graduate School of
Engineering Science, Osaka University. His research interests include robot vision, working
mobile robots and intelligent environments.

Copyright © 2013 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.

Analysis and suppression of residual vibration in microhand for high-speed single-cell manipulation 111

Tatsuo Arai received his BS, MS and PhD degrees from the University of Tokyo in 1975, 1977,
and 1986, respectively. He joined the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, AIST, MITI
(nowMETI) in 1977, and was engaged in research and development of new arm design and
control, mobile robots, teleoperation, and microrobotics. He stayed at MIT as a Visiting Scientist
in 1986–1987. He moved to Osaka University, Osaka, Japan, in 1997 and since then he has been
a Full Professor at the Department of Systems Innovation, Graduate School of Engineering
Science. His current research topics are mechanism design including parallel mechanisms, legged
working robots, microrobotics for bio applications, humanoid robots and haptic interfaces.

1 Introduction To realise successful grasping of micro-objects at high

speed, it is necessary to analyse the vibration behaviour
Recently, assembling 3D cell structures to realise functional
and develop an efficient suppression method. Tao et al.
tissues is very appealing for researchers in biotechnology
(2006) modelled the residual vibration and used an
field. Several bio-engineering approaches have been
acceleration smoother to suppress the vibration of the
proposed to create tissues from cell arrays such as cell sheet
SCARA robot arm. In the microrobotics field, most of the
engineering (Yang et al., 2005) and bio-printing (Norotte
studies focus on the vibration suppression of piezo
et al., 2009; Nakamura et al., 2011). Aside from these
actuators, as the oscillation is the natural result of applying
techniques, the pick-and-place method for cell-assembly has
voltage to the piezo material (Chang and Sun, 2001;
drawn much attention (Lu et al., 2010; Takeuchi et al.,
Rakotondrabe et al., 2008, 2010, 2011). However, the
2010; Inoue et al., 2007; Saito et al., 2002). For this method,
residual vibration suppression in a microhand has not been
a micromanipulation system is an indispensable tool. To
studied yet.
construct a multi-layered cell assembly, it is essential
There are a few existing approaches which can be
to achieve the pick-and-place of single-cell using a
applied to suppressing the vibration of the end effector of
two-fingered micromanipulation system. The first step
the microhand:
towards this goal is realising the high-speed grasping of the
cells. High speed is a necessary requirement for such a • increasing stiffness of the system by structural design to
micromanipulation system because of the presence of a vast increase damping (Roy and Whitcomb, 1999; Kim and
number of cells and their restricted life span. Hong, 2004)
In this paper, a two-fingered microhand (Figure 1) for
high-speed cell handling is studied. Rapid point-to-point • trajectory smoothing to achieve smooth acceleration
movements for the end effector of the robot are involved in and deceleration (Lambrechts et al., 2004; Meckl and
the pick-and-place task. To grasp a cell quickly, the end Arestides, 1998; Abe and Komura, 2012)
effector of the microhand needs to move towards the cell.
• input shaping to cancel the system’s own vibration
This motion involves accelerating of the end effector to a
(Singh and Singhose, 2002; Singhose and Singer, 1996)
required operational speed and decelerating to a full stop.
The abrupt changes in acceleration or deceleration often • feedforward control (Piazzi and Visioli, 2000)
result in residual vibration. When the grasping motion is
carried out at high speed, the residual vibration has a greater • feedback control (McEver and Leo, 2001; Preumont
impact on the process. It may cause location change of the et al., 2002).
target cell, damage it and lead to a long settling time of the
To achieve an effective damping in the system, we increase
the stiffness of the microhand by increasing the thickness of
Figure 1 The microhand with the end effectors (see online the end effectors. To further decrease the residual vibration,
version for colours) we need to apply an appropriate control method. As we can
predict the behaviour of the vibration (frequency, amplitude,
settling time, etc.) for a specific acceleration, we can
implement the feedforward control to suppress the vibration
in the system.
The structure of the paper is as follows. In Section 2,
the microhand system is described and the residual
vibration of its end effector is explained. The vibration
of the end effectors of the microhand is analysed in
Section 3. In Section 4, the vibration suppression through
structural design and the feedforward control is presented.
In addition, the experimental results are discussed. Finally,
Section 5 concludes the paper and provides directions for
future work.
112 E. Avci et al.

2 Micromanipulation system includes 3 piezo actuators (NEC TOKIN, AE0203D16)

as prismatic joints, which can be extended up to
In this section, we introduce the experimental setup for the
40 μm. The resulting workspace of the parallel link is
micromanipulation at high speed. Figure 2 shows the
132 × 40 × 20 μm3, with sub-micrometer precision. The
configuration of the micromanipulation system. In this
parallel mechanism has the following merits: high speed,
system, the main part is a two-fingered microhand. The
high accuracy and high rigidity, in addition to its simple and
microhand is composed of two main parts: a lower and an
compact configuration. The mechanism possesses a 3-DOF
upper module. The lower module is designed for global
end effector (two rotational and one translational motions).
motion, i.e., the positioning of the microhand and the
The coarse and fine stages are controlled by a Linux PC
transportation of target objects. Two motorised stages,
(Dell, XPS600, Pentium 4 3.80 GHz) through commercially
the coarse (TSD-805S, Sigma-Koki) and the fine
available stage controllers (Sigma-Koki: Omec-4BG,
(SFS-H60XYZ Sigma-Koki) stages form the lower module,
Fine-503). The parallel link mechanism is controlled by the
and help to realise the large workspace and precise motion
same PC through a D/A board (Contec DA16-16(LPCI)L)
necessary for the manipulation task. The specifications of
and a drive amplifier (MATSUSADA, HJPZ-0.15Px3). The
the fine and coarse stages are listed in Table 1.
displacements are measured with a strain gauge attached to
the piezoelectric devices, and sent to the PC through a strain
Figure 2 System configuration (see online version for colours)
amplifier (Kyowa MCD-16A) and an A/D board (Contec
AD16-16(PCI)EV) for PI control, in order to compensate
the hysteresis effect of the piezo actuator. This closed-loop
control of the parallel mechanism is shown in Figure 3 and
the duration of one control cycle is about 0.35 ms.

Figure 3 Parallel mechanism control

The two end effectors of the microhand and the target object
are observed under an IX81 motorised inverted optical
microscope using an Olympus LUCPlanFLN 20x/0.45na
Ph1 objective lens. The images are captured with a
highspeed camera (Photron FASTCAM MC2) and
displayed on a Windows PC (Intel Core i7 CPU, 2.93GHz
with 4 GB RAM) monitor. The end effectors – the right and
left fingers – of this micromanipulator are glass needles
which have a 1 mm diameter and sharpened ends with a
Table 1 Specifications of motorised stages curvature of less than 1 μm. While the left end effector is
connected to the lower module, the right end effector is
Fine stage Coarse stage mounted onto upper module. In total, the microhand can
Travel (mm) 0.1 (X, Y, Z) 25 (X, Y), 10 (Z) therefore perform movements in a large workspace (rough
Resolution (μm) 0.01 1 stage) with high precision (fine stage), and grab, rotate and
Accuracy (μm) 0.1 17 release objects by the relative movement of the right end
Repeatability (μm) 0.15 2 effector (parallel link).
Max. speed (mm/s) 2.3 0.1 The maximum speed of the microhand is 2.3 mm/s. As
the feasible maximum speed of the actuators depends on the
The upper module is designed for local motion, i.e., the applied voltage and the features of the actuator itself, higher
movement of the right end effector. With local motion, the speed can be realised with other actuators.
grasping and releasing of different-size target objects can be When the stage runs at normal speed (0.1 mm/s), there is
achieved. The upper module consists of the parallel link no effective vibration for most of the microhand systems.
mechanism used for manipulating different-size objects and To grasp a cell quickly, however, the end effector of the
a manual stage on which the parallel mechanism is attached. microhand needs to move towards the cell at high speed.
Using the manual stage, the 3D position of the right end This motion involves accelerating to required operational
effector can be adjusted with respect to the left one. The speed and decelerating to a full stop. The abrupt changes in
manual stage can move 6 mm in the X, Y and Z directions, acceleration or deceleration often result in residual
with a resolution of 3 μm. The parallel link mechanism vibration. When the grasping motion is carried out at high
Analysis and suppression of residual vibration in microhand for high-speed single-cell manipulation 113

speed (≥ 1 mm/s), the residual vibration is greater which To analyse the vibration of the system, the fine stage moves
may cause dropping and even damaging a cell during with the speed of 2.3 mm/second for 80 μm. An exemplary
transportation. In addition, the settling time is longer, which plotted result of the oscillation is given in Figure 5. The
is not a desirable feature in the high-speed grasping of the vibration during the motion is small. The residual vibration
microobjects. Therefore, to realise an appropriate vibration after the motion is great however. Looking at the
control method, we carried out the vibration analysis in the magnitudes of the oscillations, we can say that the right end
microhand (Avci et al., 2012). effector oscillates with higher magnitudes (up to 29.1 μm)
than the left one (5.76 μm). Furthermore, the oscillation in
the y-direction is smaller than the one in the x-direction.
3 Vibration analysis in the microhand
Since objects are grabbed and held by the relative
3.1 Oscillation observation movement and force in the x-direction, vibration control
with the aim of removing the oscillations in the x-direction
The oscillations of the end effectors during and after the was prioritised.
motion were recorded with a high-speed camera. The
camera was set to capture images at 2,000 frames per
second with a magnification of 20× (252 × 252 μm2 image 3.2 Frequency analysis of oscillation
size and 1 pixel = 0.494 μm). With this configuration, the
oscillation could be easily observed. The magnitude and the As discrete Fourier transform (DFT) takes a discrete signal
relation to the moving direction (perpendicular or parallel to in the time domain and transforms it into its discrete
the end effectors) could be identified roughly and directly frequency domain representation, the DFT is an appropriate
from the captured images. method for frequency (spectrum) analysis. Let χ0, …, χN–1 be
For more accurate and faster handling of big image complex numbers. The DFT is defined by the formula:
batches, the end effector position is saved to be used in N −1
image processing. With image processing, the contours of Xk = ∑χ e n
− i 2 πk
k = 0, ..., N − 1. (1)
the end effectors are detected based on the difference in n=0

brightness between the background and the end effector. A fast Fourier transformation (FFT) computes the DFT and
The coordinates of the end effector tip are determined as produces exactly the same result as when evaluating the
follows. The topmost pixel of the contour corresponds to the DFT definition directly; the only difference is that an FFT is
y coordinate. Calculating the centroid of the contour and much faster.
assuming a constant angular orientation of the end effector, The datasets (obtained from image processing) were
the x coordinate can be derived, as seen in Figure 4. This analysed using the FFT. The objective of this analysis was
algorithm can be applied to the image batches saved to determine the frequencies occurring within the end
beforehand. effector oscillations. This analysis provides information
about the nature and cause of the vibration. In addition, it
Figure 4 Position detection that is showing the contour, centroid
and end effector tip (see online version for colours) shows the highest present frequency.
The FFT analysis shows that the frequency spectra of
the left and right end effectors are quite different, as shown
in Figure 6. The left end effector oscillates with but a
single – its natural – frequency (170 Hz). The right end
effector sways with the superposed frequencies. The highest
occurring frequency is the right end effector’s natural
frequency, at about 260 Hz.

Figure 6 Result of fast Fourier transform of x position of the left

and right end effectors (see online version for colours)
Figure 5 Oscillation of both end effectors in x and y caused by
80 μm motion (see online version for colours)
114 E. Avci et al.

4 Vibration suppression of the end effectors threshold (set to ± 1 μm in our experiments). The natural
frequency of the right end effector is 60 Hz as shown in
4.1 Structural design to increase damping Figure 9. The parallel link mechanism, moving the right end
To increase the damping of the system, the thickness and effector, has very thin and long spherical joints, which are
mass of the fingers were considered. Equation (2) shows the main cause of the vibration as shown in Figure 10.
that a heavier finger has a lower natural frequency (Fn).
Figure 9 Vibration frequency of the right end effector is 60 Hz
EI (see online version for colours)
Fn ∝ . (2)
E stands for elastic modules, while I stands for the moment
of inertia; m represents the mass of weight, and L is the
length of the end effector. Moreover, a thicker finger
oscillates with a considerably smaller magnitude (3) where
δmax represents the maximum deflection and w stands for
applied force.
δmax ∝ . (3)

Figure 7 (a) End effectors before and (b) after structure

modification (see online version for colours)

Figure 10 Single kinematics chain of parallel mechanism

(see online version for colours)

(a) (b)

Figure 8 Vibration of right end effector after structure

modification (see online version for colours)

Seeing the differences in magnitude as well as in the means

of actuation (the right end effector can be actuated relatively
to the global motion of the hand), we decided to work on the
right end effector. The residual vibration control of the right
end effector is discussed in the next section.

4.2 Residual vibration control of the right end

To decrease the residual vibration further, we need to apply
an appropriate control method. Trajectory smoothing and
input shaping are not available approaches for the
With respect to the dynamics theory of a beam under microhand system, as the signal can not be changed during
uniform load, the microhand was redesigned by increasing the motion for the fine stage we use with a controller to
the thickness (four times) and the mass (three times) of the move both end effectors. The velocity and the distance of
end effector’s holders by considering structure of microhand the motion can be decided by the user but the signal to the
system as shown in Figure 7. For the left end effector, the controller can not be altered during the motion. Although
amplitude of the oscillation was decreased to the the feedback method is a reliable way to control the
imperceptible level (max. deflection ≈1 μm with a settling vibration, the sampling time should be at least ten times of
time of 20 ms). On the other hand, for the right end effector, the vibration frequency, which is not feasible for the current
the vibration was still great (max. deflection: 25.88 μm, system. As we can predict the behaviour of the vibration
settling time: 173 ms) as illustrated in Figure 8. The settling (frequency, amplitude, settling time, etc.) for a specific
time is the time taken from motion completion time to the acceleration however, we can apply the feedforward control
time when the end effector vibration fall within a fixed to decrease the residual vibration of the system.
Analysis and suppression of residual vibration in microhand for high-speed single-cell manipulation 115

4.2.1 Real-time image processing 1,000 Hz. The delay between giving a command on the
Linux PC and the parallel link executing the command is
To realise the vibration control in real-time, the image
about 3 ms. In total, however, the entire delay time should
processing can no longer be done on a batch of images
add up to 4.0-4.5 ms.
saved beforehand. The finger position has to be determined
directly after capturing an image. Therefore, the processing
time has to be decreased as much as possible. 4.2.3 Set-point determination
The image width was constrained by defining a region To control the vibration, the actual end effector position has
of interest (ROI). By observing the oscillation (3.1), we to be compared to a setpoint value. This is the value the
learn that the finger moves less than the maximum distance control task aims to reach. The set-point for the control task
between the two following frames. This distance depends on once the global motion has ended is identical to the targeted
the frame rate and the lens used. A 20X magnification lens position of the end effector. By converting the moving
(1 pixel = 0.494 μm) was chosen to cover a big workspace distance d into an amount of pixels and adding it to the
of 252 × 252 μm2. The ROI to be processed in the following initial position (pos0), the coordinates of the destination
frame is defined by adding this maximum distance to both (posdest) can be calculated (4).
sides of the current finger position. As a result, an image
capturing and processing rate of 2,000 Hz was realised. posdest = pos0 + d / λ
Sometimes, the finger oscillates too strongly and will where : [ λ] = μm / pixel
not be within the processed region (occurrence < 1%). In
this case, the ROI is reset to the centre of the image in order The ratio λ depends on the lens in use. In the case of the 20×
to increase the chance of re-detecting the finger in the next magnification, it is λ = 0.494.
The controller output has to be sent to the computer 4.2.4 Experimental results and discussion
commanding the parallel link mechanism. The connection
The procedure of the high-speed grasping motion is as
between the two computers used was tested for possible
follows: First, the fine stage runs with 2.3 mm/second for 80
sending rate and delay time. A sending rate of 2,000 Hz
μm to make the end effectors approach to the target object
with a transmission delay time of 0.5 ms was ascertained.
quickly. When the end effectors reach the target position,
the system informs the parallel mechanism in real-time by
4.2.2 Control loop design visual feedback, in order to suppress the residual vibration.
Considering the control aims, the deviation between the When the fine stage stops, the parallel mechanism moves
actual and the target position is processed and fed back to the end effectors to the opposite direction of the residual
the system. The difference is calculated on the Windows vibration for a decided number of cycles using the
computer doing the image processing. The result is then sent feedforward control, in order to settle the oscillation. During
to a second computer (Linux), responsible for moving the the feedforward control, there is no sensory information
parallel link mechanism, as shown in Figure 11. The two used. With the feedforward control, the residual vibration of
computers are connected via a regular LAN. The system has the right end effector is decreased. The settling time is 49
to be setup on two different computers, because the high- ms, with a maximum deflection of 15.36 μm, as seen in
speed camera only provides a Windows driver, while some Figure 12.
control tasks for the microhand require an ART-Linux To achieve stable grasping at high speed, we analyse the
computing system. vibration of the end effectors. Analysis results show that
There are two levels of vibration control, as seen in both end effectors show great oscillation at the end of the
Figure 11. The first level is the feedback control (PI) of the motion. To increase the damping of the system, we modify
parallel mechanism, meant to compensate hysteresis of the the structure of the end effectors. As a result, the amplitude
piezo actuators. However, we need to choose P and I gains and settling time of the vibration for the left end effector
very carefully so as not to produce any vibration of the decrease to the imperceptible level, at which high-speed
piezo actuators. Results show that, while compensating stable grasping is feasible. For the right end effector, the
hysteresis to avoid producing any vibration, P and I gains residual vibration is still great, however. Therefore, we
should be very small (P:0.3, I:0.1) which takes about 3 ms apply the feedforward control to the right end effector and
to complete parallel mechanism motion. Second level of achieve a further decrease in the vibration, as illustrated in
vibration control is achieved with the feedforward method. Table 2.
The feedforward control starts according to image We can predict the exact model of the vibration based
processing results. The parallel mechanism moves the right on the analysis results. Thus, we can say that the
end effector to the opposite direction of the oscillation to feedforward control is appropriate for the residual vibration
control the residual vibration. problem. If there is any unexpected disturbance, e.g.
In summary, it can be stated that an image capturing, vibrational motion of the microhand actuators on the
processing and error calculation rate of 2,000 Hz is platform, however, the resulted vibration can not be
achieved. The delay time for sending the data to the Linux suppressed with the feedforward method. Consequently, to
PC is 0.5 ms. Thus, the entire control loop can be run at realise a more robust control of the vibration, the feedback
116 E. Avci et al.

method will be applied as a next task after achieving a (29.1 μm and 5.76 μm max. deflections with ≈200 ms
sampling time of 10 times the vibration frequency. settling time) which is not appropriate for stable
manipulation at high speed. To decrease the residual
Figure 11 Block diagram of the vibration control system vibration of both end effectors, stiffness of the finger
(see online version for colours) holders is increased. Consequently, the oscillation of the left
end effector decreases to imperceptible level (1 μm with
20 ms settling time). However, the residual vibration of the
right end effector is still great (25.88 μm with 173 ms
settling time). To suppress the oscillation further, we
implement the feedforward control. As a result, the
amplitude of the vibration decreases by 47 % and the
settling time decreases by 74 %.
For this system, as we can predict the behaviour of the
vibration, the feedforward control method is suitable. To
control the vibration due to any unexpected disturbance
(vibrational motion of the microhand actuators on the
Figure 12 Vibration after compensation (see online version platform due to imperfect design), feedback method can be
for colours) applied. Thus, the combination of the feedforward and
feedback methods will be our future work.

This work was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific
Research on Innovative Areas ‘Bio Assembler’ (23106005)
from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science
and Technology of Japan.

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