Abstract

This work investigates the kinematic synthesis methodology for designing a chain of three-dimensional bodies to match a set of arbitrary spatial curves. The bodies synthesized can be one of three types: a rigid segment, a helical segment with constant curvature and torsion but varying length, and a growth segment that maintains its geometry but may be scaled to become larger or smaller. To realize mechanical chains, only rigid and helical segments are used. After designing the segments, they may be aligned with the original spatial curves with their ends connected via an optimization. For two curves, these connections may be made with revolute joints to obtain high accuracy. For three or more curves, spherical joint connections allow for the best accuracy. To compare curves as is useful in morphometry, all three segment types may be employed. In this case, an accurate description of the changes between curves is important, and optimizing to connect the segments is not needed. The procedure for redefining the curves in a way that the techniques in this paper may be applied, as well as the methodologies for synthesizing the three segment types are presented. Examples include a continuum robot problem and the morphometric analyses of chochlear curves and the lambdoidal suture. This work extends the established planar techniques for synthesizing mechanisms and addressing morphometric issues that are motivated with curves in two-dimensions.

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