The design of a novel scanning apparatus used for digitizing dental impression molds is presented. The apparatus consists of a four-degree-of-freedom hybrid spherical linkage capable of moving the dental mold relative to a laser scanner along a curved path in the specified orientations. Since closed form inverse kinematics solutions are not available for the multiple degree-of-freedom spatial mechanism in question, symbolic and numerical computation techniques are used extensively for kinematics analysis, dimension design, and optimization. In addition, mechanical design and simulation software (Pro/Engineer & Pro/Mechanica), as well as the rapid prototyping machines are used to reduce the development cost and cycle time.

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