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Personal Protective Equipment Laboratory

The Personal Protective Equipment Laboratory, led by Dr.Eduardo Sosa, was created to advance the research of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) typically used in the extractive industries such as mining and oil & gas that are prevalent in the Appalachian Region. Based in the Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering Department and located in the Advanced Engineering Research Building (AERB), it has established research collaborations with the Department of Mining and Industrial Extension, the Department of Orthopaedics, the Division of Occupational Therapy of the WVU School of Medicine, and with the Departments of Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering at Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain.

The laboratory can carry out low-energy impacts tests, mechanical material characterization of fabrics, thermoplastics, and elastomers, typically used in the manufacturing of protective equipment, as well as materials used for manufacturing surrogate testing specimens, such as medical-grade synthetic gels and specialized 3D printing materials for mimicking bone structures. The collaboration with the WVU Department of Orthopedics expanded our testing capabilities, including controlled impact tests and testing of soft and hard tissues for biomechanical material characterization.

The laboratory has the following major equipment and capabilities:

  1. Shimadzu EZ-LX universal testing machine with static and cyclic loading capability up to 2 kN and 5 kN, and accessories for uniaxial, planar, and biaxial tensile tests, unconfined and confined compression tests and bending tests.

    Shimadzu Testing Machine

  2. Customized low-energy (up to 20 Joules) impact testing machine equipped with a 5 kN force plate, displacement and speed sensors, and data acquisition system.

    Impact testing of a surrogate hand

  3. Multi-material, large-volume printers for 3D fused filament fabrication using nylon, polycarbonate, soluble, and other high-temperature printing materials.

    3D printing of surrogate hands

  4. High Performance, dual core, 48-processor Dell Precision Workstation for CT/MRI image segmentation and finite element simulation of impacts using explicit solvers.