It has been one month since the end of my vacation and the ParalleMIC newsletter
is finally ready. You will find this issue in a new format, chosen to suit the
particular information-rich content. Enjoy!
June 11, 2002
* The 3rd Chemnitz PKS proved to be a great success
The 3rd Chemnitz Parallel Kinematics Seminar (April 23-25) ended successfully.
Over 250 participants, mainly from industry, came from over 25 countries, most
from Germany. A number of new original PKMs were disclosed. A tour of the
Fraunhofer IWU testing facility presented giant PKMs such as the Dynapod, the
SKM 400, the 6X Hexa, the Pentapod, the URANE SX, and the HexaBend. With all
that, the Fraunhofer IWU is undoubtedly the number one testing facility on PKMs.
The whole seminar was perfectly organized. Its thousand-page proceedings feature
some 60 technical papers and is a must for everyone in the PKM industry.
- 3rd Chemnitz PKS
* PI takes leadership in micro parallel kinematics
Physik Instumente, GmbH & Co. (PI; Karlsruhe, Germany), a technology leader in
nanopositioning products with a decade of expertise in parallel kinematics, is
obviously quite confident in the future of parallel robots. PI's latest catalog
features an array of products based on parallel mechanisms. Their first and most
successful product was the M-850 Hexapod. The hexapod, priced at about 100,000 $
(US), has found applications in telescopes and medical robot systems, among
others. Numerous customized versions of the hexapod have been sold around the
world. Their second product is the F-206 HexAlign micro parallel robot, priced
at some 50,000 USD. The company also manufactures a family of tilt/tip platforms
with piezo actuators that are basically 3-DOF zero-torsion parallel robots.
Their newest product family is a series of piezo flexure nanopositioners with
two to six axes of motion. With that wide range of products based on parallel
mechanisms, PI is definitely the most adamant implementor of this technology.
But while PI has assumed its global leadership by default due to lack of any
direct competition, this situation may probably change (see paragraph below)...
- Physik Instrumente
* Adept finally dares to invest in parallel kinematics
Adept Technology, Inc., (Livermode, CA, USA) a leading manufacturer of flexible
automation for the fiber optic, telecommunications, and semiconductor industries
announced on March 19 their new NanoStage Six alignment stage. The device is
aimed at test and assembly of multi-channel planar waveguards. NanoStage Six is
based on the 6-DOF parallel robot design invented by Prof. Lung-Wen Tsai
(currently at the University of California, Riverside) and Dr. Farhad Tahmasebi
(currently at NASA). The robot consists of three identical legs of type [PP]SR,
where each leg is driven by a planar base-mounted actuator. Though the patent
dates back to 1992, the inventors have entered into a non-exclusive agreement
with Adept only a few months ago.
- Adept NanoStage Six
- US Patent No. 5,279,176
- Prof. Lung-Wen Tsai
* Jean-Pierre Merlet's "Les robots parallčles" sold out, new English book is out
Even five years after its second edition, Dr. Merlet French book remains the
main reference in the field. Recently, the author confirmed that his book has
been sold out at a volume of 1000 copies. As for his highly-priced English
version (153 USD) published by Kluwer, the number of sold copies is steadily
growing too. And it will certainly outgrow its French predecessor with the
recent release of a low-cost paperback version (45 USD).
* Jean-Pierre Merlet's 6-RUS "active wrist" parallel robot patent pays off
In previous issues of the newsletter, we have discussed the problem of patents
and mentioned Dr. Merlet's "active wrist" as one of the designs that is
frequently copied. Well, recently we learned that the Gemini Hexapod by US
company Gerber Coburn Optical, Inc. is manufactured on a non-exclusive license
signed with Jean-Pierre Merlet. Talks with the Japanese Hephaist Seiko are
ongoing for licensing post-factum that same technology.
- Patents Nos. US 5,053,687, EP 0 362 342 B1, EP 0 362 342 A1, WO 89/09120 A1
- Gerber Coburn Optical Gemini Hexapod
- Hephaist Seiko's SWF6B-30
* The Orthoglide fever hits LEGOŽ enthusiasts
Not long after the release of the Orthoglide review on ParalleMIC, one of our
LEGO-enthusiast subscribers referred the review to his fellow hobbyists. Shortly
after that, Bob Fay "did not resist the temptation" and built a LEGO model of
the Orthoglide. According to my logs, only in May, there were some 175 visitors
to ParalleMIC who were referred to by Bob Fay's web page. Different conclusions
spring to mind. (1) Parallel robots are fascinating and manufacturers should not
hide them in black boxes. (2) The principle of motion of most parallel robots is
not so obscure and may be taught as early as primary school. (3) LEGO is still
the fastest tool for rapid prototyping of parallel mechanisms...
- Bob Fay's LEGO model of the Orthoglide
- John Gray's cable Stewart platform
* ParalleMIC Web Site Statistics for May, 2002
- Number of subscribers to the newsletter: 350;
- Number of visitors who bookmarked ParalleMIC : 84
(only those who use Internet Explorer, real number should be twice higher);
- Average visitors per day: 100;
- Total number of unique IP addresses: 1955.