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A computer-controlled head form that uses Parker components is said to be able to mimic just about every possible facial expression, talking, breathing and hyperventilating.

Developed by I-bodi in Buckingham, the head form is designed for testing the integrity of the seal of a respirator against the face to a level that is claimed to have never previously been achieved.

The head form is comprised of a hard skeletal base structure covered in a variable-thickness silicone skin, representative of the human face, to produce a realistic locus surface upon which the respirators under test must sit and maintain an effective seal – even under the types of motion generated when a user is engaged in considerable physical activity in the harshest of environments.

I-bodi simulates breathing using a large bellows mounted beneath the head form that is driven by a Parker ET Electrothrust cylinder actuator and SMH series servomotor under the control of a Compax 3 servo drive.

Available in single and multi-axis variants and a full range of sizes, the Compax and SMH ranges are typically used in handling applications, but also in highly developed mechatronic systems that integrate and synchronise multiple complex motion axes.

A comprehensive library of software controls is available and IEC61131-3-compliant programming tools allow rapid development of bespoke solutions.

For the most part, the tests are conducted with the bellows set for ‘normal breathing’, however they can also be set for moderate or heavy breathing, or even panic and hyperventilating.

There is a second set of movements, covering swallowing, talking and shouting, and facial expressions – especially jutting out of the lower jaw.

To simulate these, the I-bodi design team identified 13 points of articulation, including nine around the lips to accurately simulate the articulatory phonetics of speech.

Each of these is driven by a servo motor located within the head and driven by software developed in-house to perfectly simulate talking breathing and facial movements.

A requirement of the design brief was that all of these drives be housed within the head form.

‘We ended up using the sort of servomotors found in remote control model aircraft,’ said Jez Gibson-Harris, designer of the head form and managing director of I-bodi.

‘They are small, lightweight and we were able to adapt their mountings to fit the space available,’ he said.

Some of the test sequences have the head conversing or reciting poetry, while others simulate more violent head movements as if a person were shouting.

Another sequence is the ability to make the head ‘sweat’, using tiny valves at various points around the face to release variable amounts of a saline solution.

Parker Hannifin — Parker Sales UK

With annual sales exceeding $10bn, Parker Hannifin is the world's leading manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of commercial, mobile, industrial and aerospace markets.

To meet its customers' needs in motion and control, Parker provides the broadest range of products available from any single supplier. This is supported by expertise in nine major technologies:

  • Hydraulics
  • Pneumatics
  • Electromechanical
  • Filtration
  • Process control
  • Fluid and gas handling
  • Sealing and shielding
  • Climate control
  • Aerospace

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