Shock Absorbing Material: Attenuating Shock and Vibration

February 03, 2015

Broken iPhone

Why is Sorbothane such an amazing shock absorbing material? Why is it that a small shock absorbing pad made of this visco-elastic polymer blend can absorb impact and shock better than one that is twice as big made of another material? Why can’t you just double up on an elastic material or use a foam based material in a much larger pad size and be done with it? What if that padding material is half the cost of Sorbothane, even if you are using twice as much? Wouldn’t that be worth it?

The answer to those questions is “no” for a number of reasons. When you need to absorb shock, to prevent rebounding, for instance, bigger is not better, cheaper is certainly not better and foam or pure elastics are going to fail you.

Stopping Forces from Rebounding: A Case Study

To understand the concept of rebound force there are two very easy examples. The first is a trampoline and the second is a hammer pounding on a hard surface. In one (the trampoline) the rebounding is desirable, while in the other, it is not only undesirable but can actually be dangerous and exhausting to the person wielding the hammer.

The higher the hammer bounces per swing, the more force is required to swing the hammer back down and the more risk of injury to the face there is. In addition, that added force that is needed to swing the hammer can lead to damage to the surface that is being hammered. In these cases there are several methods of reducing some of the rebounding including using a small pad between the hammer and the surface or using a hammer that is coated in specialized material that cuts the amount of rebound per force directly.

In addition to protecting the surface from potential damages, the material that is used can also reduce some of the stress from the rebounded force that can cause pain and exhaustion to the user. Swing a hammer with all of the force that you have, striking a solid surface. Because the surface does not have any give to it at all, all energy that is used to strike it is immediately returned and then transmitted directly back to the hand and arms of the user. That continued return of energy is exhausting and can cause strain and pain to the user as well.

A small isolation pad made of Sorbothane can absorb and dissipate thousands of pounds of force without allowing it to be transmitted back into the user’s hand and arm. In this case, less is more because a pad that is too large will not allow the surface to spread out or bulge, which allows even more of the energy to be offset.

Shock Absorption for Handheld Devices: A Case Study

Dropping a handheld device can usually spell sure death for it. For instance, if you drop a cell phone you might luck out and not have the phone itself be broken but the LCD screen will be ruined. With some phones, that can mean that while it still technically works, it is not usable because you cannot see information- you cannot read texts nor can you see what you are sending to other people. You also cannot see photos or other onscreen items. Because of the design of the LCD screen, it is more sensitive to the shocks involved in a drop or fall regardless of what height it is dropped from.

There are ways to protect these items, including others such as handheld scanners and more. For instance, the hard drive in your laptop computer can be jarred to the point of mechanical failure during a drop even if the case is closed. That case might protect your screen and keyboard, but not the hard drive.

Sorbothane can be used to create a padding case for the cell phones that would absorb and dissipate much of the generated energy so that the LCD screen is protected as much as possible. An isolating pad could be used to protect the computer’s hard drive as well.

Why You Need to Use Sorbothane for Your Shock Absorbing Needs

If you need to protect any of your handheld electronic equipment, including iPads or other tablets, lap top computers, cell phones and electronic scanners, then Sorbothane is the best answer for your needs. If for some reason you do not see the right solution for your needs, there is the option of using a custom order that can give you the exact answer to any type of need that you have.

You don’t need engineering or physics education to get a custom ordered part from Sorbothane. Design professionals will work with you to explain what your needs are and the best solution for them. You don’t have to know what the terms are; the designers can explain it in simple English, allowing you to know that your item will be right for your needs. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business owner, part of a larger company or even just an individual with a need – Sorbothane can come up with the right solution.

With this shock absorbing material, you don’t need to use a thicker or larger pad. In fact, with Sorbothane, more is not better. The material needs to have the ability to spread out and bulge away from the initial site of the impact to help the energy of impact to be better dissipated. A larger sized pad does not allow this bulging to occur, which means that less energy is actually directed away from the impact source. Using a smaller pad will give you bigger and better protection from rebounded energy and will allow you to use your tools or other items with more comfort.

Interested in learning more about Sorbothane’s custom solutions? Our engineers can custom design a solution for your product or application using Sorbothane. Request a quote.