Design of a parallel robot with additively manufactured flexure hinges for a cryogenic work environment

authored by
Philipp Jahn, Frank Ihmig, Annika Raatz

Automation is ubiquitous in today's industrial landscape and is finding its way into more and more highly specialised applications - also in the field of cryopreservation. The extreme work conditions in cryobanks place exceptionally high demands on the mechanical and electronic components used. The preservation and storage of biological samples take place at temperatures between -130 °C and -196 °C using liquid nitrogen as a cooling medium. The bearings and joints used in industrial parallel kinematic robots (for example, ball bearings or Cardan joints) jam at these ambient parameters and are unsuitable for an application within a cryobank. We, therefore, develop methods and technologies to enable fully automated handling of biological samples under cryogenic working conditions. The basis for this is a parallel kinematic robot structure that allows the drives to be placed outside the cold environment. In contrast, the rest of the robot structure can be actuated in a cryogenic container. In this context, the passive joints for this parallel robot are designed as additively manufactured monolithic flexure hinges. This paper presents the design, simulation, and construction of the parallel robot and focuses on the flexure hinges fabricated using the selective laser melting process (SLM). We describe the design of the flexure hinges, their intended use in the robot, and the experimental setup used for their validation. We also compare the operating parameters recorded in experiments (such as bending angle, bending moment) with the data obtained in finite element method simulations (FEM). In addition, we describe the geometric constraints and deviations of the manufactured joints due to the manufacturing process.

Institute for Assembly Technology and Robotics
External Organisation(s)
Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT)
Conference article
Procedia CIRP
No. of pages
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Control and Systems Engineering, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)