2010 Volume 48 Issue 5 Pages 663-674
Vehicle occupants are exposed to low frequency vibrations with possible harmful effects such as mild discomfort, lower back pain, and even injury to the spine. Occupational drivers and operators of heavy machinery are exposed to significantly longer duration and higher levels of vibration. Thus, the modeling and prediction of biodynamic response of seated occupants to such vibrations is very important. Since the properties of seating foam affect the response of the occupant, there is need for good models of seat-occupant systems through which the effects of foam properties on the dynamic response can be directly evaluated. A nonlinear planar seat-occupant model which incorporates the nonlinear viscoelastic behavior of seating foam has been developed. This model is used to study response of the occupant to harmonic excitation applied at the seat base, in terms of the frequency response in vertical and fore-and-aft directions, the deflection shapes at resonance, as well as the seat-to-head-transmissibility. In addition, to better understand the role of flexible polyurethane foam in characterizing the system behavior, the response of a single-degree-of-freedom foam-block system is also studied. The effects of different masses riding on the foam block and undergoing vertical vibrations at different acceleration levels are also investigated.