A new approach for the optimal synthesis of four-bar path generator linkages
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In this paper, an optimal synthesis of four-bar path generator, using a robust mathematical formulation is presented. Natural coordinates are used in order to solve the four-bar mechanism kinematic position analytically and the Hermitian conjugate is used to build a goal function whose range is the real numbers’ set. A Teaching Learning Based Optimization Algorithm is implemented to test the proposed formulation robustness, also the possibility of extending the method to another type of mechanism is described. The main advantages of the formulation are its simplicity and robustness due that the equations involved in the formulation are algebraic and the numerical field is the complex’s set.
KeywordsOptimal synthesis Four-bar mechanism Natural coordinates Hermitian conjugate
Several Four-bar linkage applications are found in Robotics. Han et al. , suggest the six degree-of-freedom robot leg using the four-bar linkage mechanism with high rigidity to minimize the actuators weight in a bipedal walking robot. Additionally, robot end-effector, that actually interacts with the object, design is of high importance. Some end-effector are grippers based on Four-bar linkages . Some surgical and field robots based on Four-bar linkage, that no require actuators which are attached directly to driving joints and that may be independently controlled, are presented in Hoyul and Youngjin .Displacement analysis for Four-bar linkages, has been extensively reported in the technical literature [6, 7, 12, 15, 21].
With regard to optimization bio-inspired techniques have been increased considerably in the last two decades. One of the earliest works in evolutionary algorithm applied to the optimal synthesis of four-bar path generator is reported by Cabrera et al.  . The authors developed a genetic algorithmic to solve three study cases with and without prescribed timing and considering different target points. In Nariman-Zadeh et al.  a path synthesis procedure to generator linkages using a neural network is proposed, it consists of a learning stage where a large number of kinematic simulation are generated with random dimension, and in the second stage the neural network is applied to approximate a synthesis problem solution. Bulatović and Dordević  describe the process of optimal synthesis of a four-bar linkage using the controlled deviations method of the variables with the differential evolution algorithm application. In  authors deals the Pareto optimal synthesis of four-bar mechanisms for path generation considering tracking error and transmission angle error, it is solved using a multi-objective hybrid genetic algorithm. A hybrid evolutionary algorithm for path synthesis of four-bar linkage is presented in , here the hybridization between a genetic algorithm and a differential evolution algorithm is proposed. The authors state that the main advantages of this algorithm are the simplicity and ease to implement and solve complicated real-world optimization problems, with no need of deep knowledge of the search space. In  authors present a novel approach to the multi-objective optimal path synthesis of four-bar linkages and applying it to the traditional problem with one, two and three objective function . A novel algorithm called Malaga University Mechanism Synthesis Algorithm for path synthesis of mechanisms is successfully applied to six cases of path and function synthesis of four-bar and six-bar mechanisms . Related subjects, see the title of the papers [2, 5, 11]. In the literature, the kinematic and optimization formulation of the four-bar path generator is very similar. The kinematic formulation in these works are based on the traditional closed-loop condition and the goal function is the sum of the square of the Euclidean distances, where the main difficulty is the penalization needing when the kinematic does not have solution in the two-dimensional real space. For this reason, the formulation here proposed is based in the use of the natural coordinates and the Hermitian conjugate operator in order to build an objective function whose output is always a positive real number. It should also be noted that the formulation proposed here can be extended to any problem of planar mechanisms synthesis with closed solution. The paper is organized as follows: Chapter 2 deals about the analytical position solving using natural coordinates. In chapter 3 the optimization problem is formulated using the Hermitian conjugate operator. Chapter 4 shows the mathematical description of teaching learning based optimization algorithm. In chapter 5 a result for three path synthesis problem is shown and compared with the literature. Finally, chapter 6 content the paper conclusions.
2 Position analysis of the four-bar mechanism
In general the points D and P belong to the two-dimensional complex space, thus the mechanism’s assembles only is possible if all the components of and are real numbers. The principle approach in this paper is to work in field of the complex numbers in order to make the optimization method robust.
3 Optimization problem formulation
3.1 The Hermitian conjugate
3.2 Goal function and constraints
4 Optimization implementation
4.1 Teaching learning based optimization algorithm
A teaching learning based optimization (TLBO) is a teaching-learning process inspired algorithm proposed by Rao et al. . This algorithm consists of two phases, Teacher phase and Learner phase.
4.2 Treatment of design variables
In this section three problem proposed in the literature are solved using the procedure developed in the previous sections. A processor Intel i5-4300U CPU @ 2.5 GHz was used to program the solutions implemented in Matlab® and the solutions found are showed and compared with the literature.
5.1 Problem 1
This problem was taken from  which considers six-point path synthesis aligned without prescribe timing.
5.2 Problem 2
This problem is about twelve-point path synthesis without prescribed timing, it was taken from .
5.3 Problem 3
5.4 Discussion of the method
The proposed procedure is focused on the formulation of the optimization problem and not on the optimization method. Where the main difference of the proposed procedure with the methods known to the authors is that the synthesis error is always a real number independent of the values of the design variables, this allows that individuals potentially close to the global optimum are not eliminated. The results of the optimization of the three problems are comparable with those of the literature and moreover with different dimensions and configurations.
It should also be noted that the proposed procedure encompasses a greater number of potential solutions unlike other procedures in the literature. This is due to the fact that the objective function is never penalized with values too large when the mechanism assembly is impossible even if the dimensions are close to their optimal values.
This paper presents a new approach for the optimal path synthesis of a four-bar linkage. Where the robustness of the procedure is based on the analytical solution of the mechanism’s position through the use of natural coordinates and their operation under the field of the set of complex numbers. Further to the construction of the objective function using the Hermitian conjugate operator that allows defining define a synthesis error that is always a real value.
As an optimization method, a Teaching Learning Based Optimization Algorithm was modified due that originally the algorithm only worked with continuous variables. The modified TLBO was implemented in Matlab®for three trajectory synthesis problems with six, twelve and ten precision points respectively.
The proposed procedure can be used for the synthesis of any planar mechanism whose position can be obtained analytically, and using any method of evolutionary optimization.
This work was partially supported by Fundação Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) PGPTA 59/2014 AUXPE 3686/2014.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interest. Authors take responsibility for all the content of this work.
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