Naturally limited stiffness of cantilever elements due to lack of constraint from other structural components, together with low structural damping, causes intensive and slow-decaying transient vibrations as well as low stability margins for self-excited vibrations. In cases of dimensional limitations (e.g., boring bars), such common antivibration means as dynamic vibration absorbers have limited effectiveness due to low mass ratios. This paper describes novel concepts of structural optimization of cantilever components by using combinations of rigid and light materials for their design. Two examples are given: tool holders (boring bars) and robot arms. Optimized boring bars demonstrate substantially increased natural frequencies, together with the possibility of greatly enhanced mass ratios for dynamic vibration absorbers. Machining tests with combination boring bars have been performed in comparison with conventional boring bars showing superior performance of the former. Computer optimization of combination-type robot arms has shown a potential of 10–60 percent reduction in tip-of-arm deflection, together with a commensurate reduction of driving torque for a given acceleration, and a higher natural frequencies (i.e., shorter transients). Optimization has been performed for various ratios of bending and joint compliance and various payloads.

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