A Tale of Two STANs - Centro Richero Fiat

Automotive seats represent the largest direct contact area between the driver/passenger and a vehicle. Because of this high level of interaction, seat ergonomics and comfort have become increasingly important factors when a customer is considering a vehicle purchase.

Centro Richero Fiat, in early 2001, was the first automobile manufacturer (and second user overall, after Delphi in 1998) to purchase Thermetrics’ STAN Thermal Manikin System to measure the thermal comfort of automobile seats. For 10+ years, STAN’s hot, sweaty backside was a fixture in the Fiat testing lab - ably and accurately measuring the thermal comfort characteristics of automobile seats and seat materials. But when a lab accident in 2011 led to STAN’s untimely and premature demise, Fiat’s researchers contacted Thermetrics to explore the pros and cons of repair vs purchase of a new STAN. After Thermetrics engineers determined that damage to Fiat’s old STAN manikin was extensive, to the point that repairing the manikin was not an option, the conversation quickly shifted to reviewing the capabilities of the current STAN system.

“What a difference 10 years makes!” noted Rick Burke, President of Thermetrics. “STAN is now the one comprehensive tool that automotive testing labs need for testing passive seats, heated seats, and cooled/ventilated seats.”

Thermetrics’s current STAN sweating thermal manikin has evolved to include a wide range of impressive capabilities, including articulation of the lumbar seat-back region, an integrated cooling capability for testing heated seats, an integrated seat compression/weighting system, and a body contour design that is fully compatible with existing industry standards and automotive seat positioning methods.
Eleven independently heated thermal zones, including six porous metal sweating zones, have been incorporated into STAN’s back and buttocks regions. All zones are fit with heaters to simulate human metabolic heat output rates while high accuracy sensors in each zone measure and monitor real-time temperatures.

The sweating zones fitted into the manikin’s skin surface are supplied with fluid by a micro-metering pump and valving system. Separate flow rates can be selected for each of the sweating zones. Each thermal zone on STAN is also equipped with an integrated cooling function that operates in a way similar to blood flow in a human. This internal circulation system carries away excess heat from zones exposed to elevated temperatures, such as with a heated seat.

In addition to maintaining accurate skin temperatures while in-use, STAN’s innovative cooling system allows the energy transfer rates from a heated seat to be measured. Advanced STAN technology lets researchers characterize the insulative and moisture exchange values of passive, ventilated, and heated seats. Properties such as thermal resistance, evaporation limit, maximum heating power, and transient heatup time can be accurately evaluated.

Mr. Burke adds, “STAN is a very sophisticated and incredibly useful thermal comfort research tool. By providing benchmarking capability for functional seat specifications, STAN offers researchers a path toward standardization and more comparative seat testing results.”

In addition to the new STAN thermal manikin being built for the Fiat testing laboratory in Italy, STAN systems are also operating in Germany, Japan, and the USA.

For over 25 years, Thermetrics has manufactured a wide range of precision instruments for measuring and evaluating the thermal comfort of textiles, garments, and environments such as automobile, truck, and aircraft interiors. Thermetrics systems support all major ASTM, ISO, and ENV textile testing standards.