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Blades for feeding 3D parts on vibratory tracks

Onno C. Goemans (Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Ken Goldberg (Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA)
A. Frank van der Stappen (Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 1 July 2006




Proposes a simple bowl feeder primitive, consisting of one horizontally mounted convex polygonal metal “blade” that can feed a broad class of three‐dimensional polyhedral parts by reorienting and rejecting all but those in a desired orientation. Owing to its simplicity, the proposed primitive allows for the development of methods to automate its design process.


Presents a computational geometric approach to construct the solution space for a given part and then use this space to report all designs that feed the part.


Given a polyhedral part and its center of mass as input, the complete algorithm identifies all single blade solutions that feed the part. The output is either the set of all valid blade designs or a notification that the part cannot be fed using a single blade.

Research limitations/implications

Aims to take a first step in the design of complete algorithms for three‐dimensional parts in the context of vibratory bowls. Future research encompasses the relaxation of several simplifying assumptions with regard to the physical modeling of the motion and interaction with the part.

Practical implications

Algorithms like the one proposed can be applied to generate an initial vibratory bowl design. The strength of our algorithm lies in its completeness which means that it identifies the complete universe of all possible designs. Such a rigorous exploration can neither be accomplished through human trail‐and‐error nor through heuristic approaches to automated design.


Proposes the first complete algorithm for automated design of a 3D part manipulator for vibratory bowls, which may serve as a building block for fully automated bowl design.



Goemans, O.C., Goldberg, K. and van der Stappen, A.F. (2006), "Blades for feeding 3D parts on vibratory tracks", Assembly Automation, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 221-226.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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