Parallel Link Machine Tools: Simulation, Workspace Analysis and Component Positioning

  • A. G. Chrisp
  • N. N. Z. Gindy
Conference paper
Part of the Advanced Manufacturing book series (ADVMANUF)


Conventional machine tools achieve motion of the end effector by combining linear or rotating devices in serial whereas parallel link machine tools use the motion of actuators working in parallel. With a suitable structural arrangement of actuators, these machines have the potential to achieve increased volumetric accuracy, feedrates, accelerations and rigidity relative to conventional machine structures.

The very nature of this parallel structure leads to complex workspaces in positional capability, rigidity, accuracy and other static and dynamic properties. There is, therefore, a reluctance for these machines to be accepted into a production environment as support systems are not currently set up to assist in the manufacture of parts on parallel link machine tools.

At The University of Nottingham, as part of the Rapid Response Aerospace Manufacture Project1, systems are being developed using commercial applications to enable the direct manufacture of parts on a parallel link machine tool. These systems include workspace analysis, component positioning, set-up planning, material removal and tool path simulation with collision detection. This is closely linked with the development of agile fixturing methods and machine and process monitoring.

The driving force behind this development is the requirement to produce finished metal components within a rapid prototyping time scale. This means that the manual effort in the generation of manufacturing strategy and part programs must be minimised. It is also important that the full capabilities of the parallel link machine tool at Nottingham2 are evaluated and utilised so that the benefits of such a machine tool can be quantified.

This paper will introduce the requirements of simulation, workspace analysis and component placement. It will describe the methods being used at the University of Nottingham and identify the results obtained from these methods.


Machine Tool Component Position Parallel Kinematic Machine Component Placement Machine Limit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Iacocca Institute 1991 21st Century Manufacturing Enterprise Strategy. An Industry-Led View, Volumes 1 and 2, Bethlehem, PAGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kidd TP 1994 Agile Manufacturing, Forging New Frontiers, Addison Wesley, ISBN 0-201-63163-6Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gindy NNZ et al. 1997 The Variax Machining Centre, its Design and Application to a Rapid Response Integrated Manufacturing System. In: Proc. Of Industrial Tooling ’97, Southampton Institute, SeptemberGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Powell NP et al. 1998 Parallel Link Mechanism Machine Tools: Acceptance Testing and Performance Analysis. Presented at the First European-American Forum on Parallel Kinematic Machines: Theoretical Aspects and Industrial Requirements, 31 August – 1 September, Milan, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Whittingham BD et al. 1998 Capabilities of Parallel Link Machine Tools: Preliminary Investigations of the Variax Hexacenter™. Accepted for the Symposium on Recent Advances in Machine Tools and Metrology, ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, November 15–20, Anaheim, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Masory O, Wang J 1995 Workspace Evaluation of Stewart Platforms. Advanced Robotics 9 (4): 443–461Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gosselin C 1989 Determination of the Workspace of 6-DOF Parallel Manipulators. In: Proc. of AMSE Design Technical Conferences, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September, pp 321–326Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. G. Chrisp
    • 1
  • N. N. Z. Gindy
    • 1
  1. 1.Rapid Response Aerospace Manufacture (RRAM), Dept. of Manufacturing Engineering and Operations ManagementThe University of NottinghamEngland

Personalised recommendations