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Med Eng Phys. 2012 Apr;34(3):386-93. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2011.08.004. Epub 2011 Sep 3.

An analysis of contact stiffness between a finger and an object when wearing an air-cushioned glove: the effects of the air pressure.

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  • 1National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV, USA.


Air-cushioned gloves have the advantages of lighter weight, lower cost, and unique mechanical performance, compared to gloves made of conventional engineering materials. The goal of this study is to analyze the contact interaction between fingers and object when wearing an air-cushioned glove. The contact interactions between the the fingertip and air bubbles, which is considered as a cell of a typical air-cushioned glove, has been analyzed theoretically. Two-dimensional finite element models were developed for the analysis. The fingertip model was assumed to be composed of skin layers, subcutaneous tissue, bone, and nail. The air bubbles were modeled as air sealed in the container of nonelastic membrane. We simulated two common scenarios: a fingertip in contact with one single air bubble and with two air cushion bubbles simultaneously. Our simulation results indicated that the internal air pressure can modulate the fingertip-object contact characteristics. The contact stiffness reaches a minimum when the initial air pressure is equal to 1.3 and 1.05 times of the atmosphere pressure for the single air bubble and the double air bubble contact, respectively. Furthermore, the simulation results indicate that the double air bubble contact will result in smaller volumetric tissue strain than the single air bubble contact for the same force.

Published by Elsevier Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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