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Synthesis and experiments of inherently balanced umbrella canopy designs
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This paper shows how umbrella canopies and umbrella canopy-like mechanisms can be designed inherently balanced. Inherently balanced means that the center of mass of the moving parts remains stationary at a single point for any position of the mechanism simply because of the specific design of the mechanism where no countermasses or springs are needed. The advantages of a balanced canopy are that it can be opened and closed easily with minimal effort even if it has large dimensions and that it is inherently safe since the canvas cannot collapse or fall down. Also a shaking ground or floor does not affect an inherently balanced canopy. This is due to its dynamic force balance, allowing the canopy to be perfectly suitable as a retractable roof on for instance a truck on a bumpy road. In this study, three inherently balanced umbrella canopy designs are synthesized from principal vector linkages and their balance conditions are derived. Also a prototype was built and tested to show the feasibility of the design in practice.