How You Can Use Viscoelastic Materials to Reduce Noise

What is the difference between Sound and Noise?


    • Sound waves are mechanical vibrations that are audible—they fall in the frequency range that we can hear.
    • Mechanical vibration (including sound) is a form of oscillating energy. These energy waves are characterized by their amplitude (strength—loudness in the case of sound) and frequency (the number of wave cycles/unit time—tone when describing sound).


Noise is unwanted sound. Noise may be undesirable because of its loudness (amplitude), its tone (frequency), or because of how long it lasts (exposure).

    • Our environment is full of noise sources.
    • Some noises are simply annoying. These may include: noisy drum rotation in your washer and dryer, the whir of the blender, the revving of power tool motors, and music.
    • Noise can actually be harmful. This is especially true for someone exposed to a source of high level noise or damaging frequency for an extended time period. These sources might include: industrial machinery—like punch presses, and stamping and cutting machines.

Why control noise with viscoelastic materials?

  • The most important reason to control noise is the danger of hearing loss. This can occur as the result of continuous exposure to loud (high level) noise or it can be the consequence of repeated exposure to impact noise (short bursts of high level noise).
  • According to NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health), the most pervasive work related illness is hearing loss. Annual exposure to noise hazards affects nearly 22 million Americans.
  • Estimations of the annual cost to the U.S., related to disability due to hearing loss, exceed $240 million.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has addressed the threat of hearing loss by setting standards for workplace noise exposure. The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90dBA (decibels measured on the A Scale) as an 8 hour time-weighted average (TWA). Consequently, the most extreme, yet still acceptable, situation occurs when a worker experiences an exposure to a 90dB noise for 8 continuous hours. If the sound level exceeds the TWA of 90dB, the noise must be reduced. This can be accomplished by reducing the exposure time or by reducing the decibel level of the sound.
  • It is not always feasible to reduce the exposure time in the workplace—at least, not without negative impact to production. Consequently—you need to find a way to control this noise. To achieve this, you need to know how you can use viscoelastic materials to reduce noise. Use Sorbothane®—the most effective viscoelastic noise control material on the market.

What is Sorbothane and how does it reduce noise?

    • The viscoelastic proprietary polymer, Sorbothane, possesses characteristics attributable to liquids, as well as those attributable to solids. When sound waves impact Sorbothane, the material flows—as if it were a viscous liquid.
    • When the noise source is removed, this viscoelastic substance returns to its original shape—as if it were an elastic solid.
    • Sorbothane effectively absorbs the energy of sound waves when exposed to a noise source. It then dissipates this energy, in a safe manner, as heat—outward from the source of sound wave impact.

Contact us.

To discover how you can use viscoelastic materials to reduce noise—contact Sorbothane to learn how you can use the most efficient sound reduction material available today—for all of your noise reduction needs.