This paper presents a simple yet comprehensive approach to quickly estimating the stiffness of a tripod-based parallel kinematic machine. This approach can be implemented in two steps. In the first step, the machine structure is decomposed into two substructures associated with the machine frame and parallel mechanism. The stiffness models of these two substructures are formulated by means of virtual work principle. This is followed by the second step that enables the stiffness model of the machine structure as a whole to be achieved by linear superposition. The 3D representations of the machine stiffness within the usable workspace are depicted and the contributions of different component rigidities to the machine stiffness are discussed. The result is compared with that obtained through finite element analysis
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