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PAPERS: Novel Applications of Design for AM

On Integration of Additive Manufacturing During the Design and Development of a Rehabilitation Robot: A Case Study

[+] Author and Article Information
Kaci E. Madden

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
Austin, TX 78712
e-mail: kaci.madden@utexas.edu

Ashish D. Deshpande

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
Austin, TX 78712
e-mail: ashish@austin.utexas.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design for Manufacturing Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received March 3, 2015; final manuscript received July 16, 2015; published online October 12, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Christopher Williams.

J. Mech. Des 137(11), 111417 (Oct 12, 2015) (5 pages) Paper No: MD-15-1182; doi: 10.1115/1.4031123 History: Received March 03, 2015; Revised July 16, 2015

The field of rehabilitation robotics has emerged to address the growing desire to improve therapy modalities after neurological disorders, such as a stroke. For rehabilitation robots to be successful as clinical devices, a number of mechanical design challenges must be addressed, including ergonomic interactions, weight and size minimization, and cost–time optimization. We present additive manufacturing (AM) as a compelling solution to these challenges by demonstrating how the integration of AM into the development process of a hand exoskeleton leads to critical design improvements and substantially reduces prototyping cost and time.

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Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

A hand exoskeleton for rehabilitation

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Evolution of the hand exoskeleton prototypes across design phases: (a) phase 1, the preliminary kinematic prototype, (b) phase 2a, the first functional prototype modified to include sensors and components for actuation, and (c) phase 2b, the updated hand exoskeleton prototype modified from phase 2a to be more compact, robust, and aesthetically pleasing

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

AM facilitated design improvements across phases 2a (left column) and 2b (right column). The top row illustrates the increased complexity of a multifunctional exoskeleton PIP joint component from (a) to (b), which serves as the housing for the SEA components, provides a base for the magnetic-sensor unit assembly, and offers link-length adjustment capabilities. The middle row reveals the improved ergonomic design of the pHRI (dorsal hand plate). Phase 2a interface (c) has a rudimentary design with sharp edges and an extended surface that results in painful localized pressure points and the obstruction of wrist extension. The contoured design of phase 2b interface (d) provides maximum surface area contact between the back of the hand and hand plate to distribute forces, eliminate pressure points, improve comfort, and permit full wrist ROM. The bottom row depicts a load bearing component fabricated out of unfilled nylon-12 using SLS (left) in phase 2a and SS using DMLS (right) in phase 2b. The tabs (e) and (f) directly attach the exoskeleton linkages to each finger segment. The SLS part was too weak to withstand actuation and ultimately failed under the large loads of the motor.

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