As a comparative newly-invented PKM with over-constraints in kinematic chains, the Exechon has attracted extensive attention from the research society. Different from the well-recognized kinematics analysis, the research on the stiffness characteristics of the Exechon still remains as a challenge due to the structural complexity. In order to achieve a thorough understanding of the stiffness characteristics of the Exechon PKM, this paper proposed an analytical kinetostatic model by using the substructure synthesis technique. The whole PKM system is decomposed into a moving platform subsystem, three limb subsystems and a fixed base subsystem, which are connected to each other sequentially through corresponding joints. Each limb body is modeled as a spatial beam with a uniform cross-section constrained by two sets of lumped springs. The equilibrium equation of each individual limb assemblage is derived through finite element formulation and combined with that of the moving platform derived with Newtonian method to construct the governing kinetostatic equations of the system after introducing the deformation compatibility conditions between the moving platform and the limbs. By extracting the 6 x 6 block matrix from the inversion of the governing compliance matrix, the stiffness of the moving platform is formulated. The computation for the stiffness of the Exechon PKM at a typical configuration as well as throughout the workspace is carried out in a quick manner with a piece-by-piece partition algorithm. The numerical simulations reveal a strong position-dependency of the PKM's stiffness in that it is symmetric relative to a work plane due to structural features. At the last stage, the effects of some design variables such as structural, dimensional and stiffness parameters on system rigidity are investigated with the purpose of providing useful information for the structural optimization and performance enhancement of the Exechon PKM. It is worthy mentioning that the proposed methodology of stiffness modeling in this paper can also be applied to other overconstrained PKMs and can evaluate the global rigidity over workplace efficiently with minor revisions.
- Stiffness analysis
- parallel kinematic machine