Vibration damping is an important part of building machines or working factories. When you’re talking about situations in which there are lots of moving parts and lots of friction, you definitely need to be able to control vibrations. Excess vibrations can create unnecessary noise, break a machine’s moving parts down more quickly, or even cause the machine to come apart of stop working sooner rather than later.
There are many different ways to control vibration. One is to simply absorb it. This is a process known as vibration damping. Through the years, many different substances have evolved that can help to absorb and damp vibration from a variety of sources. Here are some of the options that are still available today:
Oil: This age-old substance is used to take some of the vibration out of a system by absorbing it. It can’t isolate vibrations, but it can keep the overall vibration of the system a bit lower. It’s easy to use, and it can be good for very limited applications, especially those in which friction is the main problem.
Springs: These aren’t a true vibration damper, but they can help isolate vibration in a system. They basically absorb energy in one way and release it in another, making vibration easier to control. Before you try springs, though, consider that they have limited applications and may actually break down over time.
Rubber: This was really the next step up from springs. It also absorbs energy and releases it in a different format, so it can isolate vibration. It can damp vibration a little, but it really just works to isolate it and doesn’t have true damping abilities.
Polyurethane: Newer substances like foam and foam-like polyurethane can be used to absorb some of the energy in a system. They are sometimes used for isolation, but they can also be used in order to damp the amount of vibration and energy in an entire system.
Sorbothane: This proprietary viscoelastic substance combines the properties of some of the older vibration dampers and adds a few new properties of its own. It absorbs energy, but it can also release it. Because of this, it can be used for isolation or damping purposes.
As a vibration damper, Sorbothane is really top of the line and uses the absolute latest technology. Besides performing the roles of many previous dampers, it also lasts longer and is more versatile. This flexible substance can be formed into any number of pads, tiles, and other types of items that can be fitted into your machine or factory in a variety of ways. It’s been used in applications as various as steadying camera mounts and making running shoes healthier for the runner.
This substance is clearly the winner for most vibration damping needs. It can be used in engines or in larger systems, such as HVAC systems. It’s so versatile and lasts so long that engineers enjoy working with it.