In many industries, it is often required to transfer objects using compliant fingers capable of accommodating a limited range of object shapes/sizes without causing damage to the products being handled. This paper presents a coupled computational and experimental method in time domain to characterize the damping coefficient of a continuum structure, particularly, its applications for analyzing the damping effect of a highly damped compliant finger on contact-induced forces and stresses. With the aid of Rayleigh damping and explicit dynamic finite element analysis (FEA), this method relaxes several limitations of commonly used damping identification methods (such as log-decrement and half-power methods) that are valid for systems with an oscillatory response and generally estimate the damping ratio for a lumped parameter model. This damping identification method implemented using off-the-shelf commercial FEA packages has been validated by comparing results against published data; both oscillatory and nonoscillatory responses are considered. Along with a detailed discussion on practical issues commonly encountered in explicit dynamic FEA for damping identification, the effects of damping coefficients on contact between a rotating compliant finger and an elliptical object has been numerically investigated and experimentally validated. The findings offer a better understanding for improving grasper designs for applications where joint-less compliant fingers are advantageous.

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