Vibration Isolator Pads: The International Space Station Case Study

The effects of space, especially long term missions have long been known. Astronauts returning from the International Space Station must endure a number of health setbacks even though most leave in top physical condition at the start of their mission. Most specifically, a condition called spaceflight osteopenia, or the loss of bone mass because of the lack of gravity is not only common but very serious. According to research on the returning astronauts, the loss of bone mass is more than ten times greater than that of a postmenopausal woman, thus leading to an increased risk of dangerous fractures including in the wrists and the hips. Other health risks taken by the astronauts include a change in the cardiovascular system which slows the rate of circulation of blood in the body, a lowered production of vitally important red blood cells and a weakened immune system. Astronauts usually have serious balance issues when they return to Earth as well. To combat some of these problems, the International Space Station has installed a number of fitness tools, including treadmills and stationery bicycles which the astronauts use frequently. As can be imagined, fitness equipment meant to be used in space is not inexpensive, with the treadmill alone costing five million dollars. That treadmill, necessary for the health and well-being of the astronauts aboard the station, had a number of very unique needs. First, there are tethers that keep the astronaut on the belt as they run or jog. But, it also needed a vibration isolation system to keep vibrations, called impact forces from shaking the entire module when the treadmill was in use. For the right vibration isolator pads, the answer was Sorbothane®. In addition to protecting the Space Station from impact forces from the astronauts running on the treadmill, Sorbothane is also used by NASA to protect its expensive and very sensitive cameras during launches. Huge pressure and enormous forces are exerted on these cameras which they must be protected from.

How to Choose the Right Vibration Isolator Pad: Bigger is not Better

When you are selecting a vibrator isolator pad, it might be tempting to go overboard and just choose the thickest, largest size pad that you can find thinking that you are increasing your protection. In reality, you are doing just the opposite because you are changing the natural frequency of the item you are protecting and may render your isolator pad completely useless. When you are looking at the vibration isolator pads listed on the Sorbothane site, you will see a number of options and sizes. You can also call a member of customer service and order your pads based on the size that you need using a specific formula. In part, that formula starts with needing the load (weight) of the unit that needs to be isolated. That number is then divided by the number of isolator pads you intend to use to get the load per isolator. The next step is to find the lowest critical frequency of the system which may mean the number of RPMs of the motor, or the rate of cycle strokes, depending on the type in question. That number will then be divided by sixty to get the Hertz which is the cycles per second. This number is used to determine the type of isolator pads that you need for your application. However, if you are unsure of any of these numbers or you don’t know how to apply them, the design team can help you, making sure that you get the exact right Sorbothane product for your vibration isolator needs.

Sorbothane is More Than Just Vibration Isolation: Sorbothane Sells Solutions

There are more ways that vibration, impact and other forces can impact you not only in your professional life but in life in general. And, for all of those many stresses and pain causing forces, there is a Sorbothane application that can be the answer to your needs. It can be as simple as an insert inside of your shoe- but that small item can be a big difference to your health and your outlook on life. If you are working in a factory, you are on your feet all day long. In most factories, the floors are hard, cold cement, which means that every step that you take is your body weight pounding downward and then refracted straight back up your legs and through your feet. That is exhausting, plus it increases stress on your feet, legs and back. With a Sorbothane insole inside of your shoe, the impact is absorbed and you feel far less stress. You finish your day without the aching feet and back and get up in the morning without the misery you usually have. Joggers, who exert far more stress on their body because they take more steps are even better served by these insoles. The more that you weigh, the more impact you cause when you step down. Simply standing on your feet is putting the entire stress of your body weight on them but there are other sources of vibration and potentially harmful stresses on your body as well. That factory worker is standing near machines that generate vibrations as well and although the worker may no longer notice them, they are causing stress inside of their body as well. Sorbothane is a unique material not only because of how it is made but because of where it is made who determines what it is used for. It is a USA made material and has been for 40 years. In addition to the standard products that are offered by the company there are always new and improved solutions to be found by working with the customer and the design team taking an unmet need and finding a way to solve a problem whether that means a small change to an existing product or a completely new solution. That is the benefit of working with a design team, making sure that you get exactly what you need whether you are an individual with a need or a company with many needs. Contact Sorbothane today to learn more about our solutions.