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3D Printed Demining Training Aids

11 September, 2014 (18:32) | design innovation | By: Chris McCarthy

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Training people to diffuse landmines and other live ordnance left behind in conflict areas has always been a difficult thing. Successfully training Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians requires hands-on education that gives the technician a true understanding of how a triggering mechanism inside live ordnance actually functions. For this reason, this kind of education requires effective training aids. The traditional training aids–either replicas or inert ordnance–are fragile, difficult to make, too intricate to be understood fully, hard to obtain in the case of inert ordnance, and impossible to ship internationally. Allen Tan from Golden West Humanitarian Foundation in collaboration with Asst. Professor Gim Song Soh and his students at Singapore University of Technology and Design have come up with an innovative solution to the problems this type of education presents.

They have created training aids that are engineered for a better understanding of how ordnance trigger mechanisms work. The plastic training aids display exact replicas of trigger mechanisms in cross-section, which gives the future ordnance disposal technician a better view of the kinds of mechanisms they will find in a real mine field. The AOTM devices are also resilient enough for classroom teaching.

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How are these devices delivered to the various regions around the world where they are needed? They’re not. They’re 3-D printed. This innovation not only defeats the impossibility of shipping this kind of item all over the world, it also centralizes the construction of the devices in the region where they will be used. Countries benefit from this development of “sustainable indigenous assets capable of dealing with these issues as they are discovered” rather than putting the training in the hands of a third party (quote from Advanced Ordnance Training Materials by Allen Tan). It is a more sustainable way to run this kind of program.

Better training materials and affordable ways of providing them will lead directly to more effective—and safer–ordnance disposal programs around the world. The work that Professor Soh and his students at Singapore University of Technology and Design are doing with advanced ordnance teaching materials combines design innovation, active learning practice, and a forward-thinking embrace of 3D printing.

For more information please visit eodtrainingaids.com, Professor Gim Song Soh’s homepage, and an article written by Allen Tan.

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This animation prepared by Prof. Soh and his students illustrates the components of the SOTS-M2A1 trigger mechanism.

Wearable Robotics Put Spring in Your Step

4 September, 2014 (21:45) | design innovation | By: Chris McCarthy

Wearable electronics or “wearables” are seen as the next great wave of technology and commerce. Much of the popular talk about these kinds of products revolves around things like fitness trackers, augmented reality devices, and other machines you can wear that interact with, track, or add on to your experience with the world around you. Thomas Sugar, a professor at Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus and a wearable robotics expert works on a different kind of wearable.

Along with his colleagues and students, he has developed a new generation of powered prosthetic devices that can be used for rehabilitation and as prosthetics for amputees. He works on spring-based robots that enhance human mobility based on lightweight energy storing springs that allow for a more responsive and therefore more functional human gait. His devices make position control calculations 1,000 times per second to make the prosthetics as human as possible.

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Sugar starts from a “human being first” research perspective since his devices must be wearable and efficient. In his devices, spring power and motor power combine to create a powered system that gives prosthetic ankles the “push off” and “toe pick up” they need in order to mimic the function of human ankles.

His idea of a robotic tendon is much more efficient than a direct drive system, which would require more electricity and larger, more powerful motors.   In fact, his innovation uses half the required energy of a direct drive system powered prosthetic ankle.

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In a different device attached to the ankle Sugar uses able-bodied movement to harvest energy from walking. His company SpringActive developed a boot attachment with the military in mind that turns walking into back up power for batteries with negligible metabolic cost.

The real world and commercial applications for this kind of research are far reaching.   For more on Thomas Sugar’s and his colleagues’ work, visit SpringActive.com and http://innovation.asu.edu/

Singular Designs is now on-line

4 August, 2014 (04:17) | Engineering Data | By: Prof. McCarthy

MechGen 3

MechGen 3

Please see our Singular Designs web-site. We look forward to providing our MechGen synthesis software to simplify your linkage design process in SolidWorks. Also see Mechanism Generator.

Workshop on 21st Century Kinematics

28 July, 2014 (09:04) | Robotics Information | By: Prof. McCarthy

21st Century Kinematics

21st Century Kinematics

The NSF Workshop on 21st Century Kinematics at the 2012 ASME IDETC Conference in Chicago, IL on August 11-12, 2012 consisted of a series of presentations and a book of supporting material prepared by the workshop contributors.

The book is now available at amazon.com: 21st Century Kinematics–The 2012 NSF Workshop.

And here are the seven primary presentations given at the workshop.

  1. Computer-Aided Invention of Mechanisms and Robots. J. Michael McCarthy, Professor, University of California, Irvine.
  2. Mechanism Synthesis for Modeling Human Movement. Vincenzo Parenti-Castelli, Professor, University of Bologna.
  3. Algebraic Geometry and Kinematic Synthesis. Manfred Husty, Professor, University of Innsbruck.
  4. Kinematic Synthesis of Compliant Mechanisms. Larry Howell, Professor, Brigham Young University.
  5. Kinematics and Numerical Algebraic Geometry. Charles Wampler, Technical Fellow, General Motors Research and Development.
  6. Kinematic Analysis of Cable Robotic Systems. Vijay Kumar, Professor, University of Pennsylvania.
  7. Protein Kinematics. Kazem Kazerounian, Professor, University of Connecticut.

Colleagues joined in with two additional presentations:

Many thanks to the contributors and the attendees for an outstanding workshop.

Update: The presentation links have been fixed.

Mechanism and Robotics Notes

27 July, 2014 (17:50) | Commentary | By: Prof. McCarthy

The server in our UCI Robotics and Automation Laboratory has been revived (thank you Kaustubh). This means the links to course notes and to Mathematica notebooks have been reestablished. Synthetica.eng.uci.edu now links to my web-page which needs work. A laboratory page that will replace this soon.

Eight-bar motion amplifier

3 June, 2014 (20:17) | Linkage Animations | By: Prof. McCarthy

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Kaustubh Sonawale and Yang Liu worked together on this design study for a micro-mechanical motion amplifier. It is an interconnected set of three eight-bar linkages.

Rectilinear eight-bar suspension

17 April, 2014 (03:17) | Linkage Animations | By: Prof. McCarthy

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This is a design concept for a rectilinear eight-bar suspension. It does not manage body roll but it does provide compact large travel.

Rectilinear eight-bar linkage

9 April, 2014 (19:57) | Linkage Animations | By: Prof. McCarthy

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This animation was prepared by Yang Liu for a linkage designed by Kaustubh Sonawale. The eight-bar linkage guides the platform in the approximation to rectilinear motion.

Six-bar linkage with rectilinear moving link

20 January, 2014 (23:15) | Linkage Animations | By: Prof. McCarthy



This is an animation of a Watt I six-bar linkage with a translating link that does not rotate (select the video to begin the animation). This is obtained using GeoGebra to execute a construction described by E. A. Dijksman in his book Motion Geometry of Mechanisms.

UCI’s 2013 Fall Design Review

8 January, 2014 (16:05) | Student Projects | By: Prof. McCarthy

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Over 80 student teams from across the Samueli School of Engineering presented their senior project plans for 2013-2014. Follow their progress at the Winter Design Review in March 2014.