Characterization of biaxial mechanical properties of rubber and skin

Kumaraswamy, Nishamathi
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Breast cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers affecting women in the United States. An ongoing objective of many research groups is to develop a biomechanical breast model for different applications, ranging from surgical outcome predictions for patients undergoing breast reconstruction surgery, to image registration for planning plastic surgery. Achieving the goal of developing a physics based biomechanical model of the human breast requires the determination of material properties of the various tissues constituting the breast. The objective of this thesis is to develop an appropriate hybrid experimental-numerical technique to enable the calibration of material parameters of skin for different constitutive models (commonly used for skin). The quantification of the material parameters thus obtained validates the bulge test method to be used in testing soft tissue specimens like skin.

A bulge test device was custom-built for this work; it consists of a pressure chamber, two digital cameras, and a syringe pump as its main components. The syringe pump provides a constant flow rate of water into the pressure chamber and results in the bulging of specimens with a diameter between 45 mm and 80 mm. Three-dimensional Digital Image Correlation technique is used to obtain full field displacement measurements of the three dimensional shape of the bulge. Tests were performed on commercial rubber sheets of different thickness and on porcine skin specimens; in these tests, the bulge shape was measured at monotonically increasing and decreasing pressure levels, as well as during cyclic loading allowing determination of the deformation and strain fields over the specimen surface. In order to extract the material properties, a hybrid experimental-numerical method was used: the experiment was modeled numerically using the finite element analysis software Abaqus, imposing the commonly used Mooney-Rivlin model for isotropic materials and the Gasser-Ogden-Holzapfel model for anisotropic materials. A comparison between the experimentally measured and numerically simulated bulge shapes was used to determine the optimized material parameters under biaxial loading conditions over a large range of stretch levels.