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2012 IEEE Symposium on Humanities, Science and Engineering Research

Determining Hyperelastic Parameters of Human Skin Using 2D Finite Element Modelling and Simulation
*,aNor Fazli Adull Manan, *Mohd Hanif Mohd Ramli, *Mohd Nor Azmi Ab. Patar, **Cathy Holt, ** Sam Evans, ***Mahmoud Chizari and *,b Jamaluddin Mahmud
*: Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor, MALAYSIA **: Institute of Medical Engineering and Medical Physics, School of Engineering, Cardiff University, The Parade, Cardiff, CF24 3AA, UNITED KINGDOM ***: School of Engineering and Design, Brunel University, Kingston Lane Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH, UNITED KINGDOM Email: a, b
Abstract The behaviour of skin is still not well understood and characterising skin properties is always challenging due to its complex biological structure. Nevertheless, this paper highlights the success of determining skin material parameters using Ogdens model and finite element (FE) simulation. The approach involved integrating experiment, FE modelling and inverse-FE analysis. Data from in vivo experiments were used to develop 2D hyperelastic finite element models based on Ogdens constitutive equation and systematic case studies were constructed. By iteratively varying several material parameters and values, FE simulations were performed to simulate the skin deformation according to the actual experimental set up. The results were compared to the experiments and the best match curve constitutes the material parameters. The current results show that the Ogdens coefficient and exponent for the subject was estimated to be = 10 Pa and = 40 respectively. Further analyses using other models such as Mooney-Rivlin and Neo-Hookean could be carried out for comparison. Nevertheless, this study has contributed to the knowledge about skin behaviour. Keywords: Skin in vivo, FEA, ANSYS, Ogden model.

directly determine the mechanical properties of human skin. One approach that could lead to the establishment of skin properties is by simulating skin deformation using finite element model/software to replicate the experimental procedure. At present there is no generally accepted model reported that could be used directly for this study. Therefore, this study attempts to develop a simple but robust computational model employing the finite element method that could simulate skin deformation with reasonable accuracy. Its success could contribute to understanding better the skin behaviour. Moreover, it enriches the data currently available for skin parameters by comparing the experimental output to results obtained by other earlier researches. Thus, this makes the current study significant and important in the area of skin biomechanics. II. LITERATURE REVIEW



Skin is the largest organ of the human body with a complicated multi-layered structure [1] that constitutes its complex deformation behaviour. Until now skin behaviour is still not well understood [2] and predicting its deformation has always been very difficult [3]. Nevertheless, understanding skin mechanical behaviour is important in many applications [4,5]. Recently, an innovative experimental method utilising the motion capture system has been developed, which has successfully been used to measure the deformation of human skin in vivo [6]. The experimental results were found to be reliable and useful. The experimental data has been analysed extensively to explore the viscoelastic, nonlinear and anisotropic behaviour of skin deformation. However, it could not
This research has been funded by Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia via Excellent Fund Research Grant Scheme (FRGS), grant no. 600-RMI/ST/DANA 5/3Dst(40/2010)

The attempts to develop a computational model of skin started as early as in early 70s where skin was modelled as an elastic membrane [7] and a hyperelastic material [8]. In the early years, there was a lacking of practical computer software and powerful modelling tools Therefore, mathematical equations have been the main choice and approach used to describe the deformation of human skin. Even so, the mathematical equation was limited in computation size, and thus, usually were very basic equations with only small size of matrices. With the advances in computer technology, engineering software has been vigorously developed and commercially available. Using FE software, attempts to simulate and animate skin behaviour has become possible. A few examples include the work of Tsap et al [9] using ANSYS to analyse human tissue motion analysis. Hendriks et al [10] using MSC.MARC to simulate suction tests, Tham et al [11] using Abaqus to simulate the cupping process, Retel et al [12] using SYSTUS to simulate wound closure, Molinari et al [13] using FEAP to

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2012 IEEE Symposium on Humanities, Science and Engineering Research

simulate the biomechanical behaviour of the skin using data from a virtual surgery. However, all of this work simply used the available data from experiments and did not propose the material parameters for skin hyperelastic properties. By adapting inverse finite element analysis (i-FEA) approach and replicating the experimental procedure, the hyperelastic parameters of human skin are estimated. Therefore, this study is novel as it combines these two approaches (i-FEA and motion capture) to determine the hyperelastic material properties of skin, which up to date, has still not been reported by other researchers. III. METHODOLOGY
Figure 1. Inducing the skin deformation by pulling a nylon filament stuck at the centre of the marker set.

Due to the extensive and multi-stages tasks that have been carried out, this paper describes the methodology into two (2) sections to segregate the difference in the nature of work: Information and data gathering (from experiments) Development of the FE models A. Information and Data from the Experiments As mentioned in the first section, a novel experimental technique has been developed [6] and the challenge is to replicate and perform the simulations of that experiment. In order to simulate the experiment accurately and realistically, the information and data gained from the experiment were translated carefully and incorporated into the FE models. The experiments were conducted to measure the deformation of skin utilising motion analysis technique. The in vivo testing conducted on the skin at the ventral forearm of a healthy volunteer is shown in Fig. 1. Even though the actual tests have been conducted on 10 healthy volunteers, for the current study, only the first subject is considered. Prior to that, informed consent was obtained from all the volunteers with ethical approval from the Cardiff School of Engineering Research Ethics Committee. Upon successful of the current attempts, the current method could be applied to other subjects. A set of reflective marker stickers was attached and the deformation of the skin was induced by applying tension by pulling a nylon filament attached at the centre of the marker set. The other end of the filament was attached to a load cell (5N, Interface Force Measurements, Crowthorne, UK) connected to an analog board of a computer system. A set of 3 infrared cameras (Proflex-MCU1000, Qualisys AB Sweden) was used to record the skin deformation. Finally, the system tracking-software (QTM 2008, v2.0, Qualisys Ab Sweden) was used to track the movement of the markers corresponding to the load applied. The sample output of the software is shown in Fig. 2. The markers parallel and align to the direction of the load are labelled as L1 to L9, where L5 refers to the point of load application. The information of the experiments and the deformation data were then used innovatively to develop the FE models.

Figure 2: Sample output from the tracking software showing the markers label and movement.

Figure 3: The 80 x 60 mm plate, meshed into 48 (8 x 6) quadratic elements. The yellow arrows indicate the prescribed displacement.

B. The Development of 2D Skin Models A systematic parametric study was designed by generating a series of FE models which has a variation of material parameters, elements types and mesh sizes. Nevertheless, it started with the simplest FE model. Then, the modelling procedures and results were evaluated iteratively and the models were improved accordingly to match the experiments. One of the aims was to investigate


2012 IEEE Symposium on Humanities, Science and Engineering Research

the effect of varying the material parameters. For every simulation, the results were compared to the reference (experimental) data. The material parameters that producethe closest results (minimum error) to the experiments constitute the estimated value of the mechanical properties of skin. For this study, the 2D models of skin for Subject 1 (0.75 N) were developed. Using ANSYS, skin was modelled as a thin plate and meshed using the simplest 2D plane stress quad elements (hyperelastic, 4 noded-element, PLANE 182) as shown in Fig. 3. Load and boundary conditions The load and boundary conditions were applied according to the experiment set up as shown in Fig. 3. A 0.75N concentrated load was applied at the centre of the marker set (equivalent to the load point during tests) in the direction parallel to the midline markers (crease-to-crease of the ventral forearm). The boundary conditions were applied as prescribed displacements based on the data extracted directly during experiments (from the measured displacements at the boundaries of the test area) [6]. The actual measured displacements are input into the corresponding nodes. This was to ensure that boundaries of the thin plate model to displace exactly according to the shape of the deformed human skin in vivo. Choice of material Although the results obtained from the experiments revealed that skin behaved viscoelastically, nonlinearly hyperelastically and anisotropically, for this study only the nonlinear hyperelasticity was taken into consideration as to include all in one model would be very complicated. This assumption stems from the work of Tong and Fung [8]. An Ogden model was selected as it has been shown to give good results [3]. To investigate the effect of the Ogdens material coefficient, and exponent, , an initial study was conducted by varying from 10 to 110 for a constant =26 Pa. These initial values were selected based on the findings of Evans and Holt [14] when they measured skin properties using the DIC technique and FE modelling (=10 Pa, =26). This provided a better prediction of for the subsequent case study. For the second case study, the deformation behaviour is investigated by varying from 10 to 60 Pa and retaining constant at = 10. The results were compared to the experiments to determine the best match curve. The whole iterative process is actually equivalent to inverse-FEA. I. RESULTS

study used the outputs (displacements) to determine the skin properties (inputs); by adapting a direct iterative approach to relate both experiments and simulations. The results of the experiments were used to analyse the undeformed-deformed contour for the skin of the subject at 0.75N load applied parallel to the midline markers (L1 to L9). This serves as the reference data and all the case studies stemmed from it. It required tremendous effort to compare the displacements for the whole marker set, hence, in this study, the midline markers parallel to the load direction (L1 to L9) were observed.


(b) Figure 4. (a) The sample shape of element displacement (=26, = 20, subject 1, load 0.75 N), and (b) its corresponding contour plot. Both are in good agreement compared to the experiments results.

The general outputs from a FEA are displacement and stress information for a deformed body. In contrary, the displacement information of the deformed skin for the current study is already known and obtained from the experiments described earlier. Therefore, the current case

Fig. 4 shows the shape of the deformed plate and its corresponding displacement contour. The current approach has successfully forced the plate to deform according to the experiment results (Fig. 1). The individual elements, especially their nodes at the midline have shown a similar


2012 IEEE Symposium on Humanities, Science and Engineering Research

trend of deformation and curve shape compared to the results produced during experiments. Figure 5 shows the graph of the displacement versus midline-markers (L1 to L9) when was considered constant at =26 and was varied from 80 to 110. Figure 6 shows the graph of the displacement versus midline-markers (L1 to L9) when was considered constant ( = 10) and varied ( = 20 to 40). In general, it could be observed that the midline markers (L1 to L9) displaced accordingly to the skin deformation and thus, exhibiting a similar 2D profile of deformation behaviour. From Fig. 5 and Fig. 6, it could be observed that the curve closest (least error) to the experiments result is when the Ogdens parameters are = 10 Pa and = 40. II. DISCUSSION

cumulative. This is the main possible reason why the model did not behave as nonlinear as it should be and thus, became a limiting factor for the mathematical and geometrical nonlinearity. The current research has constructed several case studies (Subject 1, 0.75N) systematically where initially used material parameters found by other researchers and progressed up to developing a 2D skin model. The objectives were not only to model skin and determine its material parameters, but more importantly, to investigate the effects in the implementation; i.e. Ogdens material parameters, element type and element size; that contributed to enhancing the knowledge about FE modelling and simulation of human skin. From Fig. 5 and Fig. 6, it was found that the results obtained from the simulations produces almost similar value and has a small difference when considering constant or constant . The calculated percentage difference between FEA and experiment results are 44.3% for constant (=26) and 44.5% for constant (=10). Nevertheless, the improvement of the FE models has produced better accuracy. For the current study, it is found that for 2D simulations and analyses using Ogden materials with one (1) term, the closest skin parameters compared to the experiments are when =10 Pa and =40. The ultimate aim of the current study has been to determine skin properties; however, the main limitation lies in the tediousness in developing an accurate and reliable skin model. All the described case studies were conducted based on the data referred to Subject 1 at 0.75N load applied parallel to the crease-to-crease direction (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). Although the number of subject is questionable, the same approach could be applied to other subjects (Subjects 2 to 10). Applying the boundary conditions (prescribed displacements at every node) was the most tedious task and extremely difficult when applying to a 3D model.

Generally, the results of the simulations and findings from all the case studies have drawn several issues that worth to discuss. In fact, producing a converged solution for each analysis was already considered as an achievement as it has always been a great challenge to obtain a converged solution when analysing a hyperelastic material which involves large deformation in a non-linear system of equations. In this case, the current problem involves both material and geometry non-linearity which produced excessive distortion of elements. In the early attempts, the solution failed to converge and therefore, the mathematical and modeling parameters were explored until results obtained. Several reasons were found to contribute to the failure of solution convergence, for examples; the system matrix encountered negative eigenvalues, too much step increment required, zero pivot and strains too large. Due to these, the programme ignored the hyperelasticiy calculation at several points and thus contributed to computation error, which could be


Displacement (m)

0.012 0.01 0.008 0.006 0.004 0.002 0

80 90 100 110 exp





L5 Markers





Figure 5. Midline markers (L1 to L9) axial displacement (=26 and was varied from 80 to 110).


2012 IEEE Symposium on Humanities, Science and Engineering Research

0.022 0.02 0.018 Displacement (mm) 0.016 0.014 0.012 0.01 0.008 0.006 0.004 0.002 -4.16334E-17 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

20 30 40 Exp

Figure 6. Midline markers (L1 to L9) axial displacement (=10 and was varied from 20 to 40)



The objective to determine the mechanical properties of human skin using FE modelling and simulation has been achieved successfully and based on the results, the hyperelastic properties for Subject 1 was estimated to be = 10 Pa, = 40. Although it was not close to the result obtained by other researchers and the FE implementation was found to be tedious, the thorough study conducted in this paper has produced several useful findings that contribute to enhancing the knowledge about modelling skin using FEA and ANSYS. Further case studies using different element types, mesh sizes, load types and 3D models will be developed; and the findings will reported in the near future. IV. ACKNOWLEDGMENT



[7] [8] [9]

The authors would like to express their gratitude to Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia for sponsoring the work related to computational approach via Excellent Fund Research Grant Scheme (FRGS), grant no. 600RMI/ST/DANA 5/3Dst(40/2010). The experimental work has been conducted at the Cardiff University Structural Performance (CUSP) Laboratory, Cardiff University, UK. REFERENCES
[1] Payne PA. 1991. Measurement of properties and function of skin. Clinical Physics & Physiological Measurement. 1991. vol. 12(2). pp 105-129. Kuwazuru O, Miyamoto K, Yoshikawa N, Imayama S. 2012. Skin wrinkling morphology changes suddenly in the early 30s, Skin Research and Technology, Article first published online: 11 Jan 2012, DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0846.2011.00598.x Evans SL. 2009. On the implementation of a wrinkling hyperelastic membrane model for skin and other materials. Computer Methods


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