REU Supplement for SP0026778

Project: Research project

Project Details


Among the different manufacturing processes for micro-products/features with high accuracy and repeatability, meso-scale to micro-scale metal forming has become an attractive option due to its ability for generating complex 3D micro-scale shapes at high production rates. The trend of ever-increasing new product cycle and personalized product has put an increasing demand on having a means to rapidly generating 3D metal products either for prototyping or for real-applications. The current rapid prototyping methods (known as 3D printing) cannot meet this demand.
The overarching goal is to build a novel desktop prototyping machine for the double sided micro-incremental forming (DSIF) process, a process developed through the NSF Grant CMMI-0727843 (9/2007 – 8/2013). Compared to conventional forming methods, DSIF is performed without costly and complex geometric-specific tooling. In DSIF, only two genetic tools are employed and operated by a manipulator to form the sheet and, as such, an unlimited array of geometric features can be generated. The cycle time from a design to a physical product can be as short as one day compared to the current standard of 8-25 weeks. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that formability in DSIF has been significantly increased, which is extremely important for micro-forming.
Intellectual Merits: In DSIF two identical manipulators that are arranged in a symmetric form opposing each other with a metal sheet placed between the two machines deform the sheet from both sides. For the purpose of higher accuracy and repeatability, a high precision manipulator is required. However, the currently developed 3-DOF (Degrees of Freedom) translational manipulators are still built based on conventional serial or parallel topological forms. As a consequence, their accuracy, repeatability, output stiffness and flexibility are limited by their respective topological structures. Thus, to overcome all of the disadvantages of the developed/available 3-DOF translational manipulators, the next generation of desktop machine with multi-scale motions was designed by the PIs and named the Hybrid Tri-pyramid Robot. This machine is envisioned to constitute the basic building block of the proposed desktop system.
The Hybrid Tri-pyramid Robot is a device that can manipulate an object by generating three orthogonal translational output motions in space. The currently available developed 3-DOF translational parallel manipulators include three typical structures, namely, the Delta Robot, the Tsai mechanism and the Cartesian parallel manipulator. The structural disadvantage of the Delta Robot is its complex structure with a total of twenty-one 1-DOF joints. The Tsai mechanism includes six universal joints, and the three actuators are not placed on the fixed platform. Cartesian parallel manipulators have orthogonally arranged constraints. The actuation force of each sub-chain independently resists the external force. All of these characteristics lead to low stiffness and accuracy of these manipulators. In order to overcome their drawbacks and achieve a higher load/weight ratio, stiffness and accuracy, a novel translational parallel manipulator (Hybrid Tri-pyramid Robot) is designed for demanding industrial applications.
Broader Impacts: The availability of a DSIF system will result in a broader use of this manufacturing technology in key U.S. manufacturing companies and commercialization activities. Potential applications include products with micro-complex-precision features, deep drawn components, dome shapes or 3D freeform surfaces, i.e., fu
Effective start/end date5/1/144/30/17


  • National Science Foundation (IIP-1414394-002)

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