This paper presents a systematic approach to obtain the degrees of freedom (DOF) of the platforms of parallel manipulators. The paper begins with general Kutzbach criterion for mobility. With simple mathematical transformations this criterion is modified to incorporate number of parallel legs used in the parallel platform-type mechanism and the number of joints in the legs. The theory of screws is used to study the freedom of the joints in the individual legs and the mobility of the platform. It is established that the general Kutzbach mobility criterion does not cater for situations where the freedom screws (or constraint screws) of the joints in a leg become dependent on the freedom screws (or constraint screws) of one or more of the other legs; thus, altering the mobility of the platform. The general modified Kutzbach mobility formula is further modified to resolve the problem of redundant constraints. The paper then provides a systematic approach towards the number synthesis of parallel platform-type mechanims. The paper includes three examples of such mechanisms analyzed by this approach. Results agree with the existing studies carried out on the mechanism used in the examples. A numerical example of a three-degree-of-freedom parallel manipulator with three legs is used to show the enumeration of all possible parallel manipulators. This includes cases with and without redundant constraints.

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