Reconfigurable machine tools design for multi-part families

  • Sihan Huang
  • Zhaoyi Xu
  • Guoxin WangEmail author
  • Cong Zeng
  • Yan Yan


Reconfigurable machine tools (RMT) are the core facility of reconfigurable manufacturing systems (RMS), and structure design is the fundamental research involving RMT. The existing prototypes of RMT are limited to a specific part family, which suffers from reconfiguration difficulty and module sustainability issues. Therefore, a design philosophy of RMT for multi-part families with new design principles based on reconfigurability is proposed in this paper. Modularity and integrability are the basic principles, scalability, convertibility, and customization are the primary design principles, and reusability and symmetry are the auxiliary design principles. By implementing the new design principles, a two-step design method of RMT is proposed. First, a basic three-main-module structure, including the base, function arm, and workstation, is created. Second, customized components are selected to customize the functions for a specific part family, which can be reconfigured to meet the demand of other part families using other customized components. A prototype of RMT illustrates the proposed design philosophy to specify the basic three-main-module structure. The basic configurations of the RMT prototype are given, as well. The reconfigurability of the RMT prototype is analyzed from the perspectives of scalability, convertibility, and reconfiguration time. Based on topology optimization, the performance of the RMT prototype is improved. The case study implements milling and turning functions, demonstrating the practicality of the proposed design philosophy, where the processing of typical parts is also analyzed. Furthermore, the reconfiguration process among multi-part families is discussed in the case study.


Reconfigurable manufacturing system Reconfigurable machine tools design Design principle Multi-part families Reconfigurability Topology Optimization 



The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their comments and feedback, which helped us to improve this paper. All authors have approved this manuscript for submission to the journal.

Funding information

The authors acknowledge the supporting funds, the National Ministries (No. JCKY2016602B007), the graduate technological innovation project of Beijing Institute of Technology (Project No. 2017CX10040), and the National Natural Science Foundation, China (No.51105039).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sihan Huang
    • 1
  • Zhaoyi Xu
    • 2
  • Guoxin Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cong Zeng
    • 1
  • Yan Yan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of of Mechanical EngineeringBeijing Institute of TechnologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyHong KongChina

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