Harmonic drive gears are widely used in space applications, robotics, and precision positioning systems because of their attractive attributes including near-zero backlash, high speed reduction ratio, compact size, and small weight. On the other hand, they possess an inherent periodic positioning error known as kinematic error responsible for transmission performance degradation. No definite understanding of the mechanism of kinematic error as well as its characterization is available in the literature. In this paper, we report analytical and experimental results on kinematic error using a dedicated research Harmonic Drive Test Apparatus. We first show that the error referred to in the literature as kinematic error actually consists of a basic component, representing “pure” kinematic error, colored with a second component resulting from inherent torsional flexibility in the harmonic drive gear. The latter component explains the source of variability in published kinematic error profiles. The decomposition of the kinematic error into a basic component and a flexibility related component is demonstrated experimentally as well as analytically by matching a mathematical model to experimental data. We also characterize the dependence of the kinematic error on inertial load, gear assembly, and rotational speed. The results of this paper offer a new perspective in the understanding of the mechanism of kinematic error and will be valuable in the mechanical design of harmonic drive gears as well as in the dynamic modeling and precision control of harmonic drive systems.
On the Kinematic Error in Harmonic Drive Gears
Contributed by the Mechanisms Committee for publication in the Journal of Mechanical Design. Manuscript received October 1998. Associate Editor: C. M. Gosselin.
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Ghorbel, F. H., Gandhi, P. S., and Alpeter, F. (October 1, 1998). "On the Kinematic Error in Harmonic Drive Gears ." ASME. J. Mech. Des. March 2001; 123(1): 90–97. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.1334379
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