This paper presents a stochastic based methodology for the optimal synthesis of planar mechanisms. The approach is fully automated, relatively simple to use and flexible. The methodology employs an analytical synthesis approach based on the complex number theory, to synthesize the desired mechanism based on a relatively small number of prescribed positions (hard precision points – satisfied exactly). The quality of the synthesized mechanism is then optimized at an arbitrary number of prescribed positions (soft precision points – approximately satisfied). In this manner, the number of design variables is kept relatively low without compromising on the quality of the final solution. A ‘global’ stochastic optimization approach is employed to assign values to the free choices in the analytical synthesis portion, thereby effectively guiding the design process through the often highly non-linear design space. Thus the problems associated with local minima are addressed and automation is achieved. In addition, this work investigates the feasibility of considering some of the hard precision points as design variables (variable hard precision points).

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