In an engine, one of the things that an engineer must be most concerned about is vibration. Even the tiniest vibrations can lead to lots of noise and extra friction. Sometimes, it can also ruin parts of the engine or wear the entire system down more quickly. This is why vibration systems that control vibration are vital to good engineering. There are many different ways to control vibration, though, and these systems might work in some of the following.
Many times, a system will work to eliminate some vibration altogether by absorbing it. It can do this through substances like fiberglass and foam that totally absorb the sound waves of vibration. You’ll see this, often times, in buildings that were created with good acoustics in mind. An acoustically good building, for one thing, doesn’t give back echoes to even the loudest noises. Often times, such a building will have covered panels on the walls and ceiling. These panels are made out of a sound absorbent material. They lock in the sound so it doesn’t bounce back off hard surfaces and cause an annoying echo.
In a machine, the absorbent material is often a small piece that isolates a vibration from other parts of the machine. The vibration will still be there. It just won’t be getting to the rest of the machine, so it won’t do as much damage. Springs and rubber are a couple of other substances that have been used in vibration systems in this way.
Another function of such a system is actually changing the frequency of some of the vibrations. If you picture a sound wave, you’ll remember from school that different frequencies are different sizes. Sometimes, a particular size of frequency, no matter how loud it is, will resonate with a certain thing. That thing could be a refrigerator on a moving truck, a washing machine, or a tiny part of a machine. When a resonant frequency hits the object in question, it will vibrate and move in a very big way. It’s important that machine parts don’t come into contact with their resonant frequencies, or they’ll start moving much too much.
In order to get rid of resonant frequencies within a system, a damper is needed. Sound waves are basically passed through a substance so that they come out the other side a different frequency. This doesn’t take away the vibration totally, but it keeps the system from vibrating too much because of resonant frequencies.
One substance that can create an entire vibration system on its own is Sorbothane. This is a viscoelastic substance, meaning that it has the properties of both a liquid and a solid. As such, it can do all of the different functions of vibration control and direction. It can absorb sound waves, but it can also damp them. This substance can be formed into any number and size of pads and similar objects for controlling vibrations within an engine system. It’s one of the best vibration control options out there today.
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