Cable-driven parallel robots offer significant advantages in terms of workspace dimensions and payload capability. Their mechanical structure and transmission system consist of light and extendable cables that can withstand high tensile loads. Cables are wound and unwound by a set of motorized winches, so that the robot workspace dimensions mainly depend on the amount of cable that each drum can store. For this reason, these manipulators are attractive for many industrial tasks to be performed on a large scale, such as handling, pick-and-place, and manufacturing, without a substantial increase in costs and mechanical complexity with respect to a small-scale application. This paper presents the design of a planar overconstrained cable-driven parallel robot for quasi-static non-contact operations on planar vertical surfaces, such as laser engraving, inspection and thermal treatment. The overall mechanical structure of the robot is shown, by focusing on the actuation and guidance systems. A novel concept of the cable guidance system is outlined, which allows for a simple kinematic model to control the manipulator. As an application example, a laser diode is mounted onto the end-effector of a prototype to perform laser engraving on a paper sheet. Observations on the experiments are reported and discussed.
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