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Editorial

J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):120201-120201-1. doi:10.1115/1.3013852.
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Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):121101-121101-9. doi:10.1115/1.2988479.

One perspective of a design process in the engineering design community is that it is largely a process marked and defined by a series of decisions. The fundamental assumption in most developed design decision support methodologies is that decision makers make rational choices; that is, choices that maximize the payoff for the predicted outcome. Decisions that do not maximize the predicted payoff are termed as mistakes or irrational choices and discarded. However, research in behavioral economics, psychology, and cognitive science has studied the human mind and suggested the notion of “bounded rationality” to explain decision errors. Bounded rationality refers to the intrinsic inability of human beings to accurately choose “rational” options prescribed by decision models such as expected utility. This paper extends the notion of bounded rationality within engineering design. Specifically, this paper studies the design of complex systems that require interaction among several different subsystems contributing to the overall product design. For convergent decentralized design problems, rational designers converge to equilibrium solutions that lie at the intersection of their individual rational reaction sets. These equilibrium solutions are usually not Pareto optimal and due to the dynamics of the designers’ interaction in collaborative design, it is rarely possible for them to converge to Pareto optimal solutions. However, when models for bounded rationality are introduced into individual designer behavior, it is seen that the converged solutions can improve the resulting solution. Bounded rational decisions within decentralized design are modeled, and the effects of propagating such decisions within a design process are studied.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):121102-121102-13. doi:10.1115/1.2992062.

The biological world provides numerous cases for analogy and inspiration. From simple cases such as hook and latch attachments to articulated-wing flying vehicles, nature provides many sources for ideas. Though biological systems provide a wealth of elegant and ingenious approaches to problem solving, there are challenges that prevent designers from leveraging the full insight of the biological world into the designed world. This paper describes how those challenges can be overcome through functional analogy. Through the creation of a function-based repository, designers can find biomimetic solutions by searching the function for which a solution is needed. A biomimetic function-based repository enables learning, practicing, and researching designers to fully leverage the elegance and insight of the biological world. In this paper, we present the initial efforts of functional modeling biological systems and then transferring the principles of the biological system to an engineered system. Four case studies are presented in this paper. These case studies include a biological solution to a problem found in nature and engineered solutions corresponding to the high-level functionality of the biological solution, i.e., a housefly’s winged flight and a flapping wing aircraft. The case studies show that unique creative engineered solutions can be generated through functional analogy with nature.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Design Automation

J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):121401-121401-12. doi:10.1115/1.2988476.

Since variances in the input variables of the engineering system cause subsequent variances in the product output performance, reliability-based design optimization (RBDO) is getting much attention recently. However, RBDO requires expensive computational time. Therefore, the response surface method is often used for computational efficiency in solving RBDO problems. A method to estimate the effect of the response surface error on the RBDO result is developed in this paper. The effect of the error is expressed in terms of the prediction interval, which is utilized as the error metric for the response surface used for RBDO. The prediction interval provides upper and lower bounds for the confidence level that the design engineer specified. Using the prediction interval of the response surface, the upper and lower limits of the reliability are computed. The lower limit of reliability is compared with the target reliability to obtain a conservative optimum design and thus safeguard against the inaccuracy of the response surface. On the other hand, in order to avoid obtaining a design that is too conservative, the developed method also constrains the upper limit of the reliability in the design optimization process. The proposed procedure is combined with an adaptive sampling strategy to refine the response surface. Numerical examples show the usefulness and the efficiency of the proposed method.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):121402-121402-13. doi:10.1115/1.2976803.

This work studies the effects of tooth profile modification on multimesh gearset vibration. The nonlinear analytical model considers the dynamic load distribution between the individual gear teeth and the influence of variable mesh stiffnesses, profile modifications, and contact loss. The proposed model yields better agreement than two existing models when compared against nonlinear gear dynamics from a finite element/contact mechanics benchmark. These comparisons are made for different loads, profile modifications, and bearing stiffness conditions. This model captures the total and partial contact losses demonstrated by finite element. Perturbation analysis based on the proposed model finds approximate frequency response solutions for the case of no total contact loss due to the optimized system parameters. The closed-form solution is compared with numerical integration and provides guidance for optimizing mesh phasing, contact ratios, and profile modification magnitude and length.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Design for Manufacturing

J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):121701-121701-7. doi:10.1115/1.2991134.

Recent legislative and social pressures have driven manufacturers to consider effective part reuse and material recycling at the end of product life at the design stage. One of the key considerations is to design and use joints that can disengage with minimum labor, part damage, and material contamination. This paper presents a unified method to design a high-stiffness reversible locator-snap system that can disengage nondestructively with localized heat, and its application to external product enclosures of electrical appliances. The design problem is posed as an optimization problem to find the locations, numbers, and orientations of locators and snaps as well as the number, locations, and sizes of heating areas, which realize the release of snaps with minimum heating area and maximum stiffness while satisfying any motion and structural requirements. The screw theory is utilized to precalculate a set of feasible orientations of locators and snaps, which are examined during optimization. The optimization problem is solved using the multi-objective genetic algorithm coupled with the structural and thermal finite element analysis. The method is applied to a two-piece enclosure of a DVD player with a T-shaped mating line. The resulting Pareto-optimal solutions exhibit alternative designs with different trade-offs between the structural stiffness during snap engagement and the area of heating for snap disengagement. Some results require the heating of two areas at the same time, demonstrating the idea of a lock-and-key.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Mechanisms and Robotics

J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):122301-122301-12. doi:10.1115/1.2988474.

This paper addresses the issues of control and workspace determination of planar active tensegrity or tensegritylike structures. The motion of such structures is generally produced by actuated cables, which cannot tolerate compressive forces. Hence, a controller, which not only satisfies the system dynamic equations but also maintains positive tension in cables, is necessary. A null-space controller based on feedback linearization theory is developed for this purpose. This controller utilizes redundant active cables to overactuate the system. The concept of a “dynamic workspace” for these structures is then introduced. This workspace consists of all configurations that are achievable from a given initial configuration while maintaining positive tensions throughout the entire system motion, and it is a powerful tool in analyzing the performance of a variety of tensegrity structures. This idea extends the concept of the static workspace, which consists of statically maintainable configurations, by incorporating system motion and dynamics to guarantee positive tensions during transition between the states. A critical benefit of this procedure is that it may be used to find the dynamic workspace of a system regardless of whether actuator redundancy is utilized, and thus it can be used to objectively illustrate the degree to which overactuation improves mobility of a tensegrity structure. The effectiveness of the developed concepts is demonstrated through computer simulation and actual physical experimentation.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):122302-122302-6. doi:10.1115/1.2991132.

This paper presents an alternative to fabrication methods commonly used in compliant mechanisms research, resulting in a new class of compliant mechanisms called wireform mechanisms. This technique integrates torsional springs made of formed wire into compliant mechanisms. In this way the desired force, stiffness, and motion can be achieved from a single piece of formed wire. Two techniques of integrating torsion springs are fabricated and modeled: helical coil torsion springs and torsion bars. Because the mechanisms are more complex than ordinary springs, simplified models, which aid in design, are presented, which represent the wireform mechanisms as rigid-body mechanisms using the pseudo-rigid-body model. The method is demonstrated through the design of a mechanically tristable mechanism. The validity of the simplified models is discussed by comparison to finite element models and, in the case of the torsion-bar mechanism, to experimental measurements.

Topics: Mechanisms , Springs , Torsion , Wire
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):122303-122303-7. doi:10.1115/1.2991137.

In this paper, a new four degrees of freedom 3T1R parallel manipulator with high-load carrying capacity is presented. This manipulator generates Schönflies motions, in which the moving platform carries out three independent translations and one rotation about one axis of fixed orientation. The particularity of the proposed architecture is the decoupling of the displacements of the platform in the horizontal plane from the platform’s translation along the vertical axis. Such a decoupling allows the cancellation of the gravity loads on the actuators, which displace the platform in the horizontal plane. A prototype of the proposed manipulator with four degrees of freedom and an experimental validation of the suggested concept are also presented. Two cases have been examined on the built prototype: a manipulator with payload and one without. It was shown that the input torques of actuators displacing the platform in the horizontal plane for these two cases are the same; i.e., the payload does not bring any load to the actuators.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Power Transmissions and Gearing

J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):122601-122601-9. doi:10.1115/1.2988478.

Gear dynamic models with time-varying mesh stiffness, viscous mesh damping, and sliding friction forces and moments lead to complex periodic differential equations. For example, the multiplicative effect generates higher mesh harmonics. In prior studies, time-domain integration and fast Fourier transform analysis have been utilized, but these methods are computationally sensitive. Therefore, semianalytical single- and multiterm harmonic balance methods are developed for an efficient construction of the frequency responses. First, an analytical single-degree-of-freedom, linear time-varying system model is developed for a spur gear pair in terms of the dynamic transmission error. Harmonic solutions are then derived and validated by comparing with numerical integration results. Next, harmonic solutions are extended to a six-degree-of-freedom system model for the prediction of (normal) mesh loads, friction forces, and pinion/gear displacements (in both line-of-action and off-line-of-action directions). Semianalytical predictions compare well with numerical simulations under nonresonant conditions and provide insights into the interaction between sliding friction and mesh stiffness.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):122602-122602-9. doi:10.1115/1.2991140.

This paper proposes a theoretical description of the mechanical behavior of rubber belt variators during the speed ratio shift. Comparing with the steady operation, the mass conservation of the belt is completely reformulated considering an elementary dihedral control volume between two planes through the pulley axis and balancing the inside mass variation with the total mass flux through the control surface. On the other hand, the belt equilibrium conditions are similar to the steady case, as the inertia forces due to the shifting motion are negligible with respect to the other forces. Assuming a one-dimensional belt model, it is shown that adhesive regions may appear inside the arc of contact, where the belt sticks to the pulley flanges along spiral-shaped paths. It is demonstrated that this type of contact may occur only for the closing pulleys, differently from the steady drives and from the opening pulleys, where only quasiadhesive internal subregions may be observed at most, where the sliding velocity turns out to be quite small along a more or less extended portion of the arc of contact. Numerical solutions are calculated for all types of conditions, and their characteristics are widely described.

Topics: Adhesives , Pulleys , Belts , Force , Rubber
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Technical Briefs

J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):124501-124501-5. doi:10.1115/1.2988472.

This paper investigates the behavior of a type of parallel mechanisms with a central strut. The mechanism is of lower mobility, redundantly actuated, and used for sprained ankle rehabilitation. Singularity and dexterity are investigated for this type of parallel mechanisms based on the Jacobian matrix in terms of rank deficiency and condition number, throughout the workspace. The nonredundant cases with three and two limbs are compared with the redundantly actuated case with three limbs. The analysis demonstrates the advantage of introducing the actuation redundancy to eliminate singularities and to improve dexterity and justifies the choice of the presented mechanism for ankle rehabilitation.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2008;130(12):124502-124502-6. doi:10.1115/1.2991136.

A one-degree-of-freedom model of geared transmissions is set up. It incorporates the influence of unsteady rotations due to engine speed fluctuations along with simplified time-varying mesh stiffness functions, including contact losses between the teeth and back strikes. The dynamic tooth loads are determined by several analytical and numerical techniques whose results agree well. Finally, some of the response characteristics due to speed fluctuations are presented and commented upon.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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