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FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS OF HELMET’S ENERGY ABSORPTION MATERIAL

Sawat Poomsawat and Chaiyakorn Jansuwan

Research and Development Institute of Industrial Production Technology Faculty of Engineering, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand

ABSTRACT: Material used for energy absorption component must possess a unique set of properties such that it will absorb and dissipate energy through its internal mechanism and allow a minimum amount of energy to transfer to a protected region. This paper discusses the application of a Finite Element Method (FEM) for an analysis of such component of a safety device such as a motorcycle helmet. This method can be incorporated in the product development process to enabling a less expensive mean to evaluate the performance of the design. The paper first gives an overview of helmet safety components, specifically a helmet foam liner, its function and interaction with other components. It then provides the foam liner characteristics and properties that are essential to the subsequent analysis. A finite element method for an analysis of an energy absorption material is then presented. The results collected from a finite element analysis are also given in two scenarios: a quasi- static load and an impact load. In the quasi-static case, both analysis and experiment give a congruent result, which confirms the validity of the process.

KEYWORDS : Helmet, Foam, Finite Element, FEA, Impact, Expanded PolyStyrene, EPS

1.

INTRODUCTION

In Thailand, most fatality in motorcycle accident is caused by head/neck injuries and more than 95 percent of the deaths do not wear safety helmet (Santijiarakul et al. 2004). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the United States also reports that the use of a motorcycle helmet can reduce fatality rate by 29 percent and head injury rate by 40 percent (Phalidpolkarnpim 2004). The effectiveness of a helmet in injury prevention mainly relies on the helmet construction and material used. A typical helmet construction includes three major components: a hard shell, a foam liner and a retention system.

During an accident, a foam liner will absorb most of the impact energy while a hard outer shell will provide penetration resistance to any foreign object from touching the head and also distribute the impact load on a wider area of foam liner thus increasing the foam liner energy absorption capacity (Shuaeib et al. 2002/1). The main function of the retention system is to ensure proper placement of the helmet throughout the accident.

Thermoplastics and composite materials are the two major candidates for shell construction while an Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) is the most widely used material for a helmet liner due to its excellent performance and lightweight characteristics (Shuaeib et al. 2002/2). Since the performance of a helmet depends largely on a foam liner’s ability to absorb energy, therefore, it is necessary for a helmet designer to be able to evaluate the liner’s properties and characteristics prior to manufacturing. This can be accomplished by employing Finite Element Analysis (FEA), which provides an inexpensive mean to accurately estimate the liner behavior under prescribed load.

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2.

EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE

Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) is made of polystyrene beads pre-expanded under controlled condition and then formed to the desired shape in a mold. The foam beads bond together by means of blowing agent (usually hot air or superheated steam). EPS property depends largely on its density. Most helmet

in the market uses density in the range of 30 50 gram/liter where higher density gives a stiffer liner.

Figure 1 shows a typical load-deformation curve of EPS. Each graph exhibits three regimes (Zhang et al. 1997): (1) an approximate linear elastic regime due to cell wall elastic bending, (2) a plateau regime corresponding to plastic yielding, and (3) a steep hardening regime due to densification of the material.

hardening regime due to densification of the material . Figure 1. Stress-Strain Curve of EPS under

Figure 1. Stress-Strain Curve of EPS under Various Densities

EPS property also depends on temperature and strain rate. Typically they are stiffer and stronger when subjected to higher strain rates and lower temperatures. These effects can be accounted for using phenomenological constitutive model proposed by Zhang et al. (1997).

3. FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS OF EPS

A crushable foam model with volumetric hardening (ABAQUS Theory Manual) is employed since it

accounts for a different response of EPS under compression and tension. In compression the ability of the material to deform volumetrically is enhanced by cell wall buckling processes. It is assumed that the foam cell deformation is not recoverable instantaneously and can be idealized as being plastic for

short duration events. On the other hand, cell walls break readily under tension and as a result the tensile load bearing capacity of crushable foams may be considerably smaller than that of compressive one.

Since EPS property is sensitive to strain rate and temperature, an appropriate set of properties should

be carefully chosen to ensure condition compatibility between the real scenario and the condition from

which each set of properties derives. For example, a stress-strain curve selected for a finite element

analysis should be obtained at the same temperature as that of a real situation one wants to analyze.

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Force (N)

To evaluate the correctness of a crushable foam model with volumetric hardening, a quasi-static load analysis was set up to replicate the experimental results, which is an experiment to obtain a load- deformation relation using a specimen of 100 mm diameter 30mm thickness with densities of 28 and 55 gram/liter. The measured Young moduli are 5.17 and 12.14 MPa respectively. An impact analysis was also carried out with a simple liner model placed on a rigid headform and hit by a 5 kg mass at 0.5 m/s.

4.

RESULTS

Figure 2 shows the simulation results of the quasi-static case using both 28 and 55 gram/liter. It is clear that the simulation results in both cases follow the real load-deformation curve closely, which validate the use of a crushable foam model with volumetric hardening for a finite element analysis of EPS.

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Test result, 55 g/l Simulation result, 55 g/l Test result, 28 g/l Simulation result, 28 g/l
Test result, 55 g/l Simulation result, 55 g/l Test result, 28 g/l Simulation result, 28 g/l
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Figure 2. Quasi-Static Results

20 Displacement (mm ) 25 30 Figure 2. Quasi-Static Results Figure 3. Impact Load at Maximum

Figure 3. Impact Load at Maximum Compression

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In the impact load analysis, the striking object touches the liner with maximum velocity and decelerates until reaching zero velocity (see Figure 3), whereas the strain energy is maximal. The recoverable strain energy is then released and moves the striking object backward until they separate. Figure 4 shows that, after separation, the top part of the liner is permanently deformed, which corresponds to the energy dissipate in the foam liner.

which corresponds to the energy dissipate in the foam liner. Figure 4. Impact Load after Separation

Figure 4. Impact Load after Separation

5.

CONCLUSION

A finite element analysis of an energy absorption material for a motorcycle helmet, specifically EPS foam, is presented. The property of EPS foam and the parameters on which it depends is also given. Two examples of EPS finite element analysis are illustrated: a quasi-static load and an impact load. The results from the quasi-static load matches closely with the experimental result, which confirm the validity of the process.

6.

REFERENCE

Santijiarakul, S., Santikarn, C., Spicer, R., Namwat, C. (2004), “Trends and Epidemiology of Childhood Injuries in Thailand,” National Injury Surveillance, Bureau of Epidemiology, Ministry of Public Health,Thailand Phalidpolkarnpim, A. (2004), “Child Helmet Campaign: a Presentation.” Shuaeib, F.M., Hamouda, A.M.S., Hamdan, M.M., Radin Umar, R.S. and Hashmi, M.S.J. (2002/1), “Motorcycle Helmet Part II. Materials and Design Issues,” Journal of Material Processing Technology, No. 123, 422 431 Shuaeib, F.M., Hamouda, A.M.S., Hamdan, M.M., Radin Umar, R.S. and Hashmi, M.S.J. (2002/2), “Motorcycle Helmet Part III. Materials and Design Issues,” Journal of Material Processing Technology, No. 123, 432 439 Zhang, J., Lin, Z., Wong, A., Kikuchi, N., Li, V.C., Yee, A.F. and Nusholtz, G.S. (1997), “Constitutive Modeling and Material Characterization of Polymeric Foams,” Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology, vol. 119, July, 284 291 ABAQUS Theory Manual

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