Faculty Advisor

John M. Sullivan

Faculty Advisor

Zhikun Hou

Faculty Advisor

Holly K. Ault

Faculty Advisor

Robert L. Norton




"The goal of this project was to investigate the dynamic effects of incipient separation of industrial cam-follower systems. Typical industrial cam-follower systems include a force closed cam joint and a follower train containing both substantial mass and stiffness. Providing the cam and follower remain in contact, this is a one degree-of-freedom (DOF) system. It becomes a two-DOF system once the cam and follower separate or jump, creating two new natural frequencies, which bracket the original. The dynamic performance of the system as it passed through the lower of the two post-separation modes while on the verge of jump was investigated. A study was conducted to determine whether imperfections in the cam surface, while the contact force is on the brink of incipient separation, may cause a spontaneous switch to the two-DOF mode and begin vibration at resonance. A force-closed translating cam-follower train was designed for the investigation. The fixture is a physical realization of the two-mass mathematical model. Pro/Engineer was used to design the follower train, Mathcad and TK Solver were used to analyze the linkage and DYNACAM & Mathcad were used to dynamically model the system. The system is designed to be on the cusp of incipient separation when run. Experiments were carried out by bringing the system up to jump speed and then backing off the preload to get the system on the cusp of separation. Data were collected at the prejump, slight jump, and violently jumping stages. The time traces show the acceleration amplitudes grow to large peaks when the system is jumping. The frequency spectrum shows the two new natural frequencies growing in amplitude from non-existant in the prejump stage, to higher values in the violently jumping stage. The peak amplitudes of the phenomenon are small in magnitude compared to the harmonic content of the cam. It is concluded that the contribution of the two-DOF system natural frequencies is not a significant factor from a practical aspect. Although the actual jump phenomenon is of concern in high-speed applications, calculations show that if the follower system is designed sufficiently stiff then the two-DOF situation will not occur."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Cam Follower, Dynamic Modeling, Vibration, Follower Jump, Cams, Analysis, Vibration, Analysis, Cams, Vibration

Available for download on Thursday, August 19, 2032