Consultancy for the calculation of exoskeleton design variants using numerical modelling and HPC infrastructure

Partner: Mebster

Field: Healthcare

MEBSTER is active in the research and development of assistive technologies, especially exoskeletons for people with mobility impairments. MEBSTER enables individual clients to literally stand on their own feet and motivates them to actively improve their quality of life. It is an international team of engineers, doctors and physiotherapists based in the Czech Republic. They design health aids directly with users and their research is focused solely on patients. They rigorously test all products to make them as easy and comfortable to use as possible, working with a team of world-class experts to help set trends in their field.

The subject of MEBSTER’s consultation with the National Centre of Competence in HPC was a study of numerical solutions for several possible design options for a part of the innovative UNILEXA exoskeleton. The sophisticated design of the exoskeleton is intended to support the walking of people with partial or complete loss of lower limb function. The exoskeleton is subject to strict criteria in terms of safety and trouble-free functionality, but also versatility of use. For the needs of this project, the long-standing experience and knowledge of experts, including the operating supercomputers of IT4Innovations of the National Supercomputing Centre, was also used.

Also, people with varying physical constitutions should be able to use the UNILEXA exoskeleton. These criteria require a costly and repetitive cycle for the production of new or modified parts and their testing.

The solution is a computational model based on the finite element method (FEM). Different numerical models consisting of dozens of individual parts (bolts, springs, rods, etc.) had to be simulated separately under the same boundary conditions to assess which are optimal in terms of production and safety. The number of individual parts and their arrangement with each other have generally required the use of contact methods to successfully solve the problems.

The use of supercomputers, which has been operated by IT4Innovations for more than a decade, has given MEBSTER the opportunity to be first to market with completely new and innovative ideas. Enhancing the quality of care provided to the end user has always placed emphasis on their convenience. Thanks to detailed numerical simulation, it will be possible in the future to repeatedly ascertain and verify the safety and effectiveness of the existing product and its further versions and variants. The ability to visualise the problem and its solution to the customer or end user is also a great benefit.