Dec 26, 2014 | By Simon

Delta arms, which feature a series of interconnected parallelograms that restrict movement to the X, Y or Z axis have been on the rise in the form of a variety of uses, particularly due to their ability to fit into and work effectively within small spaces.

Invented in the early 1980s by a research team led by professor Reymond Clavel at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, the original delta robot presented a new approach to robot design that was able to manipulate light and small objects at a very high speed. At the time, this robotic task was needed for industrial purposes and the license for the design was purchased by Swiss company Demaurex to put into production for the packaging industry.

Thanks to developments in hardware and software engineering that have both brought technology up and manufacturing costs down, a legion of makers have been creating everything from similar robotic style arms to even delta-style 3D printers.

One such project that has advanced the capabilities of the original delta robot is independent software and electromechanical product developer Aad van der Geest's 'Multi-Delta Robotic Arm' project.

While the original delta robot was designed to operate in a small area of space, van der Geest set out to improve on the original lightweight delta construction to make it more useful for applications requiring traditional robot arms with a wider range of motion...but without the added weight.

Starting with a traditional delta robot, van der Geest linked multiple delta arms together while keeping the heavier operational equipment attached to the base. With three developmental prototypes ranging from six inches to nearly twelve feet tall, he was able to find a solution a lightweight robotic arm that is able to carry weight, which ultimately reduces the working volume.

To achieve a working model, van der Geest started with a base containing the extensor and control actuators mounted to a work area. From the base, three arms with elbow joints extend to connect to a triangle-shaped platform. The arrangement repeats itself until the final height is reached for the intended application.

Because the actual actuation is done from the base and supported via a weight-bearing joint support system, the arms are able to be made from lightweight materials (such as those that might come off of a 3D printer) and can move with little inertia. Ultimately, this allows for fast accelerations and movement speeds. Additionally, similar to how bridges are engineered to hold weight, the resulting connected components are able to increase stiffness and load strength without compromising the final weight.

While there have been no plans announced for moving the design into a commercial product either for consumer or industrial usage, van der Geest has been experimenting with vertical linear actuators that he used to create a 3D printer concept. The final 3D printer design offers the capability of a large build volume for prices that are comparable to conventional desktop 3D printers.

Whether or not van der Geest decides to move forward commercializing the design, it's nice to know that tables and chairs might soon be able to be 3D printed at some point or another without the need for a space and cost-demanding 3D printer.



Posted in 3D Printer


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MDF wrote at 12/31/2014 6:01:34 AM:

One little problem. It adds back in the inherent additive error from the joints in each stage. Also adds more mass than an equivalent delta. Only benefit is a slightly reduced volume needed for the mechanism.

Brian wrote at 12/27/2014 5:44:44 PM:

How much strength and stability is lost as you add another layer of segments (double then triple)? You gain length and it looks like rotation but stability and strength must be lost somewhere.

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