The role of rapid prototyping in the generative design of mechanisms

Harrison, Laura; Earl, Christopher and Eckert, Claudia (2011). The role of rapid prototyping in the generative design of mechanisms. In: 12th Conference on Rapid Design, Prototyping & Manufacturing, 17 Jun 2011, Lancaster University, CRDM Ltd.


Generative design supported by rapid prototyping presents a synthetic approach to facilitate the systematic discovery of design configurations. Graph and Shape Grammars have been used to generate engineering structures, and this paper extends this generation to kinematic mechanisms. Over-constrained spatial linkages are used to illustrate the benefits of RP in the generative design of mechanisms, for both understanding their complex motions and determining the shape of connecting links to avoid collisions. In generative design, rules generate new design configurations. Here, these rules determine both the geometric configurations of motion axes and the shapes of connecting elements, and constituent variable spatial relations in transformative shape rules give designs their kinematic functions. Over a sequence of several rule applications, it can be difficult to predict what new functional properties will emerge, but Rapid Prototyping can enable tangible evaluation at intermediate stages, indicating process changes required to realign the design with its required function.

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