Impact Force and Sorbothane

February 02, 2015

Impact force is described as a force that delivers a shock or a high impact, typically for a short period of time. Impact force applies when something falls or is dropped from above or when two or more bodies collide with one another. The effect of the impact force might depend on a number of factors including the relative velocity of those bodies to one another. The faster the bodies are moving, the higher the impact’s force will register.

When two materials collide with one another at normal speeds, one will absorb most of the impact by deforming and then dispelling the energy in the form of heat and/or sound energy. For example, when a hammer is used to pound in a nail, there are several short term impacts that are exerted to the head of the hammer and transferred to the nail head. The impact then forces the nail to push through the material that is being nailed. If the hammer is swung without sufficient force, the nail may not penetrate cleanly and will instead twist or may even bend and then fall to the ground. Using a nail gun though, increase the rate of the impact of the nail which means that it penetrates the wall or other surface much faster with far less damage and distortion.

The faster the impact, the more it may impact a material, making it act as if it were actually a brittle material. A rubberized sheet for instance may break into pieces rather than distorted and absorbing an impact when it happens very quickly. The easiest way to understand this might be to think of a balloon being poked by a thumb tack. Done slowly, the balloon might just deform and change shape rather than popping right away while if you use the exact same thumbtack and stab the balloon rapidly, it will typically pop right away.

It is important to consider impact force and how a material will behave, especially when designing an item that will be potentially involved in a collision of any kind. The more likely there is to be a collision, the more important adequate design might become. There are a number of different applications where impact force becomes a very valid consideration. For instance, when you are designing a vehicle for people to ride in, you have to consider how impact might affect the outer shell as well as the people inside of it.

Sorbothane is often used to adjust the amount of shock that is absorbed and then displaced by a material, allowing it to be exposed to higher than average impact force without the brittle, rigidity that often results in instantaneous failures. Because it is a visco-elastic polymer, it can be used in much thinner applications than other properties could be, which extends the number of places that it can be used in. it can also increase the amount of stress load that a material can take before it reaches its critical peak.

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