In this paper the equations of motion for a flexible multi-link manipulator are derived. Each link of the manipulator, including those with prismatic motion, is represented by two finite elements in three-dimensional space. The prismatic links are treated as beams with moving boundary conditions, and the position of finite-element node points are not changed relative to the link. The equations are generated using Maple V, and the paper discusses a general approach for eliminating small terms. A sample calculation is performed for a RRP (Stanford arm) manipulator, and the shift of natural frequencies with time are plotted. Results are compared to those obtained by the assumed-mode method.

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