Advanced design methods for electromechanical actuators

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Vaculik, Stewart Andrew

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The basic components of electromechanical actuators include geartrains, prime movers, bearings, shafts, sensors, cooling components, and fasteners. A common requirement that drives a typical actuator design process is providing the output torque and speed needed for the given actuator task in a minimum volume/weight geometry. Two important questions to be answered in this research relate to the scaling and configuration management of an electromechanical actuator design. The first question is: “Given an electromechanical actuator design, how can it be scaled to produce another design that meets a different set of requirements (e.g., torque, speed, weight, life)?” The second question is: “Given an electromechanical actuator design, how can a designer change the configuration to obtain another design that meets the same set of requirements in a different geometric package/shape?” The answers to these questions rely on the development of a science of design process for electromechanical actuators to replace the current design process, which is based primarily on designer experience and often requires multiple design iterations. The Robotics Research Group (RRG) is currently working on this science of design process, which includes parametric design rules that can be used to reveal how actuator design parameters affect its key performance indicators. To improve this science, this research develops a detailed parametric model of the primary actuator components for a standard actuator, summarizes the design rules available from this model, formally defines the concepts of scaling and configuration management, and lays out a step-by-step process to implement these concepts. The parametric model used in this research builds on the existing models of previous RRG researchers. The design rules are developed based on the fundamental modeling equations that govern the design of the actuator components. The concepts of scaling and configuration management are defined as two of the fundamental design operations that can be applied to an electromechanical actuator. A scaling and configuration management process, which requires the parametric model, is developed and applied to an existing set of baseline actuator designs. The result of this process is the creation of actuator designs of intermediate size between the sizes of existing actuators, which makes it suitable for populating an actuator family. To handle the size and complexity of the actuator parametric model, this research introduces the model reduction technique of monotonicity analysis and illustrates how it is well suited for the electromechanical actuator design problem. A future goal of the RRG is to create a software tool that will contain a complete actuator parametric model, component design rules (of this and future research), and scaling and configuration management options, which will allow users to design actuators with a minimum amount of time, cost, and knowledge


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