Sound Vibration – What It Can Do to A Machine

If you’ve ever driven a car that needed a tune-up, you probably already know that sometimes sound vibrations can spell big trouble. In fact, listening for vibrations may be one of the first things a mechanic does for a car that’s experiencing some trouble. Certain issues just sound different when you’ve spent your life working with cars. Sound vibrations, though, can spell trouble for any machine, no matter how large or small it happens to be. Here are just a few of the things that sound waves, innocuous as they may seem, can do to machines.

For one thing, sound vibrations can cause a machine to wear out. Vibrations are signs of friction, and if there are too many of them, they can cause parts to wear down more quickly. Vibrations inherently cause things to shake a bit, and over time, even slight shaking can cause major wear and tear to the delicate moving parts of a machine. Sometimes, though, sound vibrations can be even worse than this. Certain vibrations can even keep a machine from working properly. Every item in a machine has what’s called a resonant frequency. Basically, this is a frequency at which that item will respond with movement.

Let’s say that you’re driving down the road with something metal in your back seat. Maybe you’re moving a table over to a friend’s house. You notice that whenever you’re driving between 62 and 64 miles per hour, the table starts to make some awful noises. If you speed up or slow down, it doesn’t make those noises. This is because at this driving speed, your vehicle has hit the resonant frequency for that table. When the table “hears” that frequency, so to speak, it starts to respond with movement. What seems to you like a small, fairly quiet sound vibration can cause some major movement in the table.

You can imagine that this problem of resonant frequencies could wreak major havoc on the delicate, interlocking parts of a machine. Basically, every machine will have several resonant frequencies, depending on which parts you’re looking at. Sometimes, there will even be a frequency at which the entire machine starts to vibrate at once. This can be terribly damaging. It can cause a machine to break or just not work at all from the start.

This is why it’s important for engineers and manufacturers to control sound vibration when creating machines. Vibration from sound can be controlled in a variety of ways. It can be damped, which turns part of the energy into another form of energy, normally heat. It can also be absorbed, or it can be isolated in one part of the machine. All of these options might be used in one machine at the same time, depending on its complexity. One substance, Sorbothane, can actually act to control noise vibration in all of these ways, so it’s often a great solution for vibration problems in machines in general.

Interested in learning more about Sorbothane’s solutions? Contact us today.