Fatigue Testing and Sorbothane

February 02, 2015

Whenever anything is built, there are several tests that have to be performed. These tests are not only meant to prove safety of the material, machine or component, but its effective and expected life in general as well. All materials, regardless of their components will eventually wear out, leading them to break or become destroyed. This damage is the direct result of fatigue.

A fatigue test is done in several ways and may depend on the exact nature of the material or the machine involved. In most cases, the item is repeatedly exposed to the same type of motions that it would be exposed to while in regular use in a cycle until the item finally fails. If the item is used in an up and down motion, for instance, then it would be moved in an up and down motion until it failed. The more separate pieces and components to a machine, the longer the fatigue testing may take as each piece may have a different level of fatigue wear that it can handle before damage occurs.

After learning the results of the fatigue test, the next step is to determine how to lengthen the effective life of each component. In some machines, there are going to be some components that are never going to last as long as others. That being said, you can extend the life of the machine substantially by lengthening the fatigue life of the shortest lived component. While you still may not be able to make all of the components last the same length of time, you can still make things last much longer than they normally would. To do so, you have to understand what causes fatigue in the first place.

Fatigue is often caused by vibration, which makes each component move and may cause them to bang into one another which may cause damages to occur. Damage may be minor at first, but as it continues to occur, it will build up and will eventually lead to total failure.

In some cases, there are ways to reduce this potential damage, including using certain materials to buffer the vibration and other movement. Sorbothane, a unique material is often the material of choice because it is flexible, able to be molded into the shape that is needed. It also provides a number of additional properties to the material it is used to protect. Reduction of fatigue can increase usable life of materials, sometimes as much as twice as long as they would normally be expected to last.

Sorbothane, a viscous elastic polymer, is used to absorb and displace load creating stress in the material, often converted the diverted energy into heat which can then be eliminated via exhausts or vents. It is also material used to prevent fatigue in people as well, typically used for insoles in shoes meant for people who are spending a lot of time on their feet such as factory workers or long distance runners.

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