Zemic Europe B.V. (Netherlands) - Giving back full mobility to people with a Spinal Cord Injury to fully participate in daily activities and in this way contribute to their quality of life. That is what Project MARCH is about. They work this out by designing and building an exoskeleton for people with a spinal cord injury.
The exoskeleton is a motoric harness, developed with the newest technique and robotics, which enables people with a Spinal Cord Injury to stand up and walk again. In this advanced project, initiated and carried out by students from the Technical University (TU) in Delft, a new team of students commit to the development of the ultimate exoskeleton every year. Each year the students develop this further, with improvements and optimization of the prototype from the previous year.
During the development of the exoskeleton, the forces on the frame are also examined whilst the pilot controls it. These forces are measured using strain gages. With more than 35 years of experience in the field of weighing and force measurement, Zemic is happy to help its customers with all challenges where forces need to be measured. Zemic Europe was therefore very enthusiastic to be able to think along in this project and to advise the developers in the field of force measurement with strain gages. The ultimate goal of the project team is to make the exoskeleton accessible and available to everyone who thereby regains mobility. Our slogan is "We believe we make you stronger!". This fits very well with the purpose of Project MARCH and we wish them every success in achieving this goal.
Zemic & Project MARCH:
- Focus on innovation in Spinal Cord Injury
- Unique construction
- Continuous development
- Experience in the field of force measurement
- Knowledge of strain gages
How Zemic Europe consulted Project MARCH
During the development of the exoskeleton force measurements are made. The team responsible for the bones of the exoskeleton also investigates the forces in the exoskeleton while the pilot controls it. They have measured these forces using strain gages. These are dynamic resistances that measure the deformation of materials and therefore undergo a change in resistance. The degree of deformation of the material gives an indication of the magnitude of the force in the material.
Zemic is one of the leading manufacturers of strain gages. With over 35 years of experience in the development and production of strain gages, Zemic produces a wide program of high quality strain gages. Zemic is therefore the right partner when it comes to the advice, development and delivery of strain gages.
It was fine for the members of the project team to be able to use the expertise of Zemic in the area of strain gages. Zemic gave them tailor-made advice as to which strain gages were most suitable and also on how they can best be glued to the skeleton parts. Zemic developed a custom-made strain gage with a custom cable. This makes the force measurements as accurate and efficient as possible. The members of the project team can therefore use their expertise more in other areas. Zemic Europe is also able to deliver products for force measurement quickly. This benefits the tight schedule of the project team.
Meanwhile, a test has been carried out in which the strain gages are glued to different specific areas of the bones and the attachment points of the exoskeleton. As a result, forces were measured when standing up, walking and climbing stairs. The knowledge will be used in the design of the bones of the exoskeleton, in particular its strength. It is essential that the bones in the Exoskeleton are as light as possible. Force measurement can be used to calculate this. With any reduction in weight, energy will be saved from the main engine.
The Exoskeleton of Project MARCH:
The exoskeleton is a motoric harness which enables people with a Spinal Cord Injury to stand up and walk again. Project MARCH focuses on the target audience of people with complete paraplegia, meaning the damage is permanent and thereby incurable.
The team is currently working on the development of the fourth version; the MARCH IV. The various innovations that are being worked on this year will only be announced at a later stage. The design of the predecessor, the MARCH III (in 2017-2018) was mainly focused on daily usability and user-friendliness. Therefore, different innovations have been made to this suit, such as: an active ankle, the first basis for the balance mechanism, and a variable step size.
Zemic custom-made strain gages:
Zemic produces a high quality and wide variety of strain gages. Zemic Europe takes care of the sales, marketing and distribution within Europe. All Zemic strain gages are in accordance with the needs for sophisticated stress analysis and high-precision strain gage sensors, like load cells. With professional and reliable technology Zemic is able to produce an annual quantity of over 50 million stable, reliable and first-class quality strain gages. These are divided in more than a dozen series and over a thousand different specifications. In addition custom-made strain gages can be designed.