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Skin friction blistering: computer model.


BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Friction blisters, a common injury in sports and military operations, can adversely effect or even halt performance. Given its frequency and hazardous nature, recent research efforts appear limited. Blistering can be treated as a delamination phenomenon; similar issues in materials science have been extensively investigated in theory and experiment. An obstacle in studying blistering is the difficulty of conducting experiment on humans and animals. Computer modeling thus becomes a preferred tool. METHOD: This paper used a dynamic non-linear finite-element model with a blister-characterized structure and contact algorithm for outer materials and blister roof to investigate the effects on deformation and stress of an existing blister by changing the friction coefficient and elastic modulus of the material in contact with the blister. RESULTS: Through the dynamics mode and harmonic frequency approach, we demonstrated that the loading frequency leads to dramatic changes of displacement and stress in spite of otherwise similar loading. Our simulations show that an increased friction coefficient does not necessarily result in an increase in either the stress on the hot spot or blister deformation; local maximum friction stress and Von Mises stress exist for some friction coefficients over the wide range examined here. In addition, the stiffness of contact material on blistering is also investigated, and no significant effects on deformation and Von Mises stress are found, again at the range used. The model and method provided here may be useful for evaluating loading environments and contact materials in reducing blistering incidents. CONCLUSION: The coupling finite-element model can predict the effects of friction coefficient and contacting materials' stiffness on blister deformation and hot spot stress.

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