ACTUATORS, cilt.6, 2017 (SCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi)
Cost is an important consideration when transferring a technology from research to industrial and educational use. In this paper, we introduce the design of an industrial grade series elastic actuator (SEA) performed via re-engineering a research grade version of it. Cost-constrained design requires careful consideration of the key performance parameters for an optimal performance-to-cost component selection. To optimize the performance of the new design, we started by matching the capabilities of a high-performance SEA while cutting down its production cost significantly. Our posit was that performing a re-engineering design process on an existing high-end device will significantly reduce the cost without compromising the performance drastically. As a case study of design for manufacturability, we selected the University of Texas Series Elastic Actuator (UT-SEA), a high-performance SEA, for its high power density, compact design, high efficiency and high speed properties. We partnered with an industrial corporation in China to research the best pricing options and to exploit the retail and production facilities provided by the Shenzhen region. We succeeded in producing a low-cost industrial grade actuator at one-third of the cost of the original device by re-engineering the UT-SEA with commercial off-the-shelf components and reducing the number of custom-made parts. Subsequently, we conducted performance tests to demonstrate that the re-engineered product achieves the same high-performance specifications found in the original device. With this paper, we aim to raise awareness in the robotics community on the possibility of low-cost realization of low-volume, high performance, industrial grade research and education hardware.