Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)


Mechanical Engineering

Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Kyle B. Reed, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stephanie Carey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Luther Palmer, Ph.D.


3D Printing, Gait, Passive Dynamic Walker, Rapid Prototyping, Rehabilitation


In this study, a previously designed passive dynamic walker (PDW) is built out of aluminum and plastic. The aim of the study was to produce an asymmetrical PDW and to compare the results to a computer simulation to validate the mathematical model. It also aimed at identifying the limitations of using additive manufacturing to create components for a PDW as well as gain insights on asymmetric systems.

Beginning with a five mass kneed model, parameters were varied to produce up to a nine mass kneed model solution. The nine mass model allows more variability in added mass locations and separates the zeroth, first, and second moments of inertia. To validate asymmetric gait, step length and step time of the prototype were compared to the simulation. The walker, unable to produce a steady gait, failed to match the asymmetric simulation. More than four times the amount of symmetric data was found compared to asymmetric data. Successful runs of symmetric gaits were approximately double than for asymmetric gaits. The reason for unequal successes is thought to be due to greater instability of asymmetric systems. This instability is thought to be due to inertia from a constant state of hanging motion. 3D printing proved useful in simplifying components and reducing waste but the polymers used did not have enough strength when mass was added to the system. Joining differing materials on the legs was difficult to keep in place. A smaller more robust design could solve these problems.

This study focused on understanding physically asymmetric PDWs. These simple robots separate the neurological and mechanical controls of walking and are advantageous for studying physical parameters of human gait. Once a reliable asymmetric walker is built, further research could alter the foot shape or knee location to reverse the process, thus having a PDW walk symmetric. Once a walker is successfully reverted from walking asymmetrical to symmetrical, these parameters could be then applied to human subjects. An example of this would be for prosthetic foot design.