Kinematics software optimises machine designs

Dean Palmer reports on software that enables designers to represent and edit the geometry and kinematics of almost every planar mechanism imaginable

Dean Palmer reports on software that enables designers to represent and edit the geometry and kinematics of almost every planar mechanism imaginable

Although not entirely new software, the latest version of 'Camlinks', the kinematics and motion design software ( enables design engineers to model and edit the geometry and kinematics of almost any planar device imaginable, even for complex machine designs.

According to Kevin Stamp, MD at Camlinks, "There is no other tool available that lets you design with such speed, ease and flexibility, while providing the designer with robust design guidance. The software enables design engineers to define the motion with infinite flexibility of the most critical parts of a machine." He cited the tip of an X-Y robot, an 'on the fly' cutter or the key of a door lock, as examples.

"Cams can then easily be added to any mechanism the designer chooses. Camlinks then works out the geometry and a cam profile is derived from the motion, even with a very complex mechanism in between the motion part and the cam follower part. If the designer edits any part or motion mechanism the cam is instantly re-calculated," he explained.

The software can be run at actual machine speed rather than slow motion, the user can check for collisions. By plotting graphs at any derivative of any design variable against any other design variable, the designer can quickly optimise the machine design against any parameter of choice: velocity, acceleration, jerk, pressure, transmission angle, force or torque.

According to Stamp, the software allows even the most complex machines to be modelled and designers can watch the whole model cycle at design speed and move on screen with all the parts synchronised to the same drive shaft or time line.

Users of the software agree. John Brennan, engineering design consultant at Design by Design Company, has been involved in numerous cam and servo-driven machine design projects. He told Eureka: "The ability of Camlinks to calculate accurately the drive loads for servo motors and produce motion tables that can be imported directly into most commercially-available servo controllers, the ability to calculate cam profiles that can be converted into dxf files that can be read by low cost CNC mills, all of these things have saved me hours of time.

"To be able to demonstrate to clients how products can be transferred and collated with a simple-to-produce 2D model makes it so much easier to sell your ideas. If you build the model and it all works, then you can be confident that the machine will also work."

Tom Shelley

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