Sensitivity analysis of important parameters affecting contact pressure between a respirator and a headform

Jichang Dai, Jingzhou (James) Yang, Ziqing Zhuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Respirator comfort and fit are two important parameters for respirator design, usage, and standard development. The contact pressure (as measured between a respirator and the wearer) plays an important role in comfort and fit. This work attempts to investigate the contact mechanism and factors that affect the contact pressure. This paper focuses on mechanical factors such as strap tension, strap orientation, strap location, friction, and seal material. A finite element (FE) model-based method was developed to assess the contact pressure. The FE models for both the headform and the respirator have multiple layers. The headform is a medium size headform developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the respirator is an MSA Affinity Ultra respirator. The results show that the positive Z directional force of strap tension that forces the respirator to move towards the headform is the most important parameter for measuring pressure distribution. Other factors such as strap orientation, friction, strap location, and softness of the seal material were found to affect the contact pressure distribution in this study. Strap orientation and friction coefficient have no significant effect on maximum pressure and maximum shear stress. The dispersive strap location increased the contact pressure on the nose-bridge area of the wearer, while concentrated location had no considerable effect on contact pressure. A softer seal material causes larger deformations and transfers the location of the maximum pressure from the nose-bridge to the tip of the nose. Relevance to industry: This study investigates the effect of important parameters on contact pressure between a respirator and a headform. The sensitivity analysis can provide insights of the interaction between a respirator and a headform. The findings are critical to respirator designers, users, and standard developers to ensure maximal respirator fit and comfort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-279
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Comfort and fit
  • Contact pressure
  • Finite element model
  • Friction
  • Headform
  • Respirator


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