Conception of the kinematic structures with better performance has been a challenging, yet pivotal issue, since the beginning of the design of mechanisms or robots. This paper proposes a systematic method to synthesize and classify automatically all the valid kinematic structures of planar 3-DOF closed loop mechanisms or robots. First, after the structure representation graphs of planar mechanisms or robots are addressed, the unique representation of both contracted graphs and topological graphs is proposed and used to detect isomorphism in the synthesis process. Then the valid atlas database of the contracted graphs for planar 3-DOF closed loop mechanisms or robots up to 16-link is built. Based on the atlas database, an automatic synthesis method is proposed to synthesize all the kinematic structures of planar 3-DOF closed loop mechanisms or robots, and the complete atlas database with all the valid kinematic structures classified for planar 3-DOF closed loop mechanisms or robots up to 16-link is established. The creative design of 3-DOF heavy-load hydraulic robots is conducted to show the usefulness of the established atlas database.

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