Design of Linkage Systems to Draw Specified Curves

Design of Linkage Systems to Draw Specified Curves


  • Michael McCarthy, The University of California, Irvine
October 10, 2018 - 9:00am to 10:00am


Kinematic synthesis is a set of mathematical techniques to calculate the dimensions of a mechanism or robot to achieve a desired task. Since the time of James Watt, whose “parallel motion generator” made the double-acting steam engine practical, engineers and mathematicians have studied curve-drawing linkages for practical as well as theoretical purposes. Recent mathematical results prove that such linkages exist for every algebraic curve, and this talk presents an overview of a variety of techniques to design these linkages. One interesting result is that the equations for kinematic synthesis rapidly expand beyond the ability of current computers to solve completely. On the other hand, because Bezier curves can be written as parameterized trigonometric curves, there is a way to design relatively simple linkage systems that draw Bezier approximations to arbitrary curves. Applications include leg mechanisms for walking and jumping robots and flapping-wing mechanisms.

Additional Information 

About the Speaker:

J. Michael McCarthy is the Henry Samueli Professor and Director of the Center for Engineering Science in Design at the University of California, Irvine, which supports the design and execution of team engineering projects across the School of Engineering. 

Sponsoring Organization 

Materials Science and Technology Division and Fusion and Materials for Nuclear Systems Division


  • Research Office Building
  • Building: 5700
  • Room: A-106

Contact Information