Testing at the Leatt® Lab
The philosophy of testing at Leatt® has been to develop test rigs and methods that allow comprehensive in-house testing and exploration of product performance.
Using a range of real life scenarios similar to the types of situations that might be encountered in a motorcycle, bicycle, kart, automotive racing or other accident, tests are conducted at intensity levels that allow Leatt® engineers to fully understand and characterise accident dynamics and product / rider interaction, in order to optimise product performance.
It also gives Leatt® engineers the confidence to expect a first round approval when submitting product to certification facilities where appropriate for examination.
In the early innovation of the motorcycle neck brace, Dr. Leatt had no standard against which to test quality and performance, no theory to guide the design and no practical testing methods to measure the results.
The original point of departure was a medical understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the spine, knowledge of the prevalent neck injury modes found in motorcycle accidents, the conceptualisation and design of a protective device that would reduce forces on a riders neck in an accident by establishing an alternative load path to transfer some of the forces away from the neck and redistribute these onto the riders upper torso.
By means of original research, experimentation, computer simulation and testing at international test facilities the understanding of the mechanisms of motorcycle neck injuries and the measured performance of the early brace designs were used to refine and optimise the protective capabilities and features now built into the Leatt® range of Neck Braces.
The theoretical foundations were explored and underpinned by research theses and academic research papers and documented in the White Papers that Leatt® has developed and is developing for each brace variant. As technology improves and more test options become available, the lab team continues to refine test procedures and approaches to gain an ever deeper understanding of the mechanisms and the dynamics involved, and to use this understanding to keep product current.
The neck brace designs have been patented - a necessary precaution - to defend against the numerous copies that have appeared since the release of the original. It is for this reason and the need to protect design specific propriety knowledge that the Leatt® White papers are not readily available for distribution, but can be provided on a case-by-case basis to institutions upon request.
To address the lack of a standard for unrestrained torso neck protection devices, Leatt partnered with the SFI Foundation a standards body in the USA to develop SFI Standard 57.1 [on-going]. The tests in this standard are derived from the testing requirements of SFI 38.1 a specification that covers Head and Neck Restraint Systems used by drivers a of racing cars and includes the Leatt Moto-R and the HANS device.
Leatt® also acquired a Hybrid III ATD (Crash Test Dummy) along with a MATD neck specifically designed for use in motor cycle (unrestrained torso) testing.
For simulation, a sophisticated Multi-Body Dynamics and Motion Analysis modelling package MSC ADAMS with an add-on called LifeMOD/BODY SIM is used. In this add-on, Leatt® Biomedical Engineers implemented a previously researched sophisticated Full Spine Model, incorporating a Functional Spinal Unit (FSU) that distinguishes itself from other spine models by making use of non-linear intervertebral disc stiffness functions to more accurately characterise the dynamic nature of forces within the spine during an accident. This simulation environment also includes a fully calibrated and validated model of a Hybrid III Test Dummy that considerably expands the scope of Leatt® Lab testing.
Several test rigs have been build to date, including a pendulum rig for unrestrained torso testing (motorcycle, bicycle and other unrestrained torso impact scenarios), a sled rig for restrained torso (automobile) testing, a rig for destructive testing (to explore the strength and failure characteristics of new and existing products and materials), a dynamic impact testing rig (to explore the ability of materials and material composites of varying thickness and configurations to absorb forces and meet CE and other certification standards) and a helmet impact rig to similarly explore the performance of helmet design and material characteristics against the US and European helmet standards as well as higher as yet unpublished standards.
For data capture a high speed camera provides video and data analysis using nCode Glyphworks.
With the described testing facilities, tools and equipment the Leatt® Lab has been able to conduct testing across a broad range of test conditions and force / torque levels. Where test conditions would exceed the design forces of the Test Dummy or MATD neck, Leatt® engineers have been able to explore forces at these levels by making use of the calibrated Hybrid III Dummy model in LifeMOD /BODY SIM.