Parts Manipulation Method And Apparatus

Kevin Lynch (Inventor), Paul Umbanhowar (Inventor)

Research output: Patent


Multipurpose Vibratory Device for Conveying, Sorting, Orienting, and Feeding Parts NU 2005-111 Inventors Kevin Lynch Paul Umbanhowar Abstract The Programmable Parts Feeder conveys, sorts, orients, and feeds parts - simultaneously in a single setup. Part motion is 100% software controlled, so there is no need to build custom tooling. Production setup times are eliminated. The Programmable parts Feeder uses only a small number of actuators for a wide variety of functions. A single horizontal plate, usually rigid, vibrates in such a way to create a force field that manipulates the parts. Force fields can be superimposed to create a wide variety of effects and may be flexibly altered for different parts. The plate can be vibrated with as little as 1 degree of freedom or with as many as six (6) degrees of freedom. As the degrees of freedom are increased, an increasing variety of force fields can be implemented. The Programmable Parts Feeder has won several awards, and new prototypes are being tested. Please visit for a video. Applications o Part manipulation o Discrete manufacturing and assembly o MEMS micro-assembly o Other Advantages o Purely programmable o Conveys, sorts and orients in a single setup o Eliminates custom tooling o Eliminates setup times o Superimposes force fields for a wide variety of effects o Eliminates any need for sensors in many applications o Is robust: Few actuators are required Publications Best Automation Paper Award: 2007 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Rome, Italy. Best Student Paper Award: 2008 Robotics Science and Systems conference in Zurich, Switzerland. See Assembly Magazine article (Dec 19, 2007) for a discussion of the invention. IP Status Issued US Patent No. 8,230,990
Original languageEnglish
Patent number8348047
StatePublished - Nov 15 2012


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