What Does a Vibration Dampener Do?

One of the banes of an engineer’s existence is vibration. This natural occurrence is useful in many cases, especially since vibrations allow us to hear sounds and interpret the world through hearing. However, whether you’re building an engine, a cell phone, or a computer, vibration can cause major mechanical problems. Extra vibrations can cause a machine or electronic gadget to make lots of noise, which is simply annoying. Plus, as you might know from listening to a car engine gone bad, lots of extra vibration – which is often heard as lots of extra noise – can actually cause a machine to break down and stop working altogether. This is why vibration dampeners are important in all fields of engineering.

Without getting too technical, let’s remember a little bit about what you learned about vibration back in high school physics. Basically, a vibration is a back-and-forth type movement. There are different types of vibration, but we don’t really need to get into that. Things – whether sound waves or mechanical parts – can vibrate at different frequencies. This is where things get a little tricky, so stick with me here. There is this effect that engineers call resonance. Basically, a particular item or part of an item is resonant with certain frequencies; that is, when these frequencies are vibrating, they’ll cause the part or item to move dramatically.

So, everything in the world has one or more resonant frequencies, and the job of an engineer is to ensure that the natural frequency of something is not the same as its resonant frequency. For instance, when you build an engine, you have to make sure that its parts don’t vibrate at a frequency that will resonate with one or more other parts, making them move unnecessarily. An engine or other work of engineering that doesn’t take resonance into account can wear out really quickly or even break down completely after a short time.

There are a couple of different ways to solve resonance problems. One way is to build an item differently so that its natural frequency and resonant frequency don’t match up. With some things, such as swinging bridges, this is essential and somewhat less complex, but with things like cell phones and engines, it can be terribly difficult. This is where vibration dampeners comes in.

Basically, a vibration dampener is usually a viscoelastic substance like Sorbothane, which has the properties of both a solid and a liquid. This kind of substance will actually absorb some of the energy from vibration, turning some of it into heat energy and storing some of it until the pressure is off. Since energy can’t be lost but can only be transferred from one form to another, substances like Sorbothane are very important in vibration damping functions. If a product simply can’t be engineered to take all resonant frequencies into account, Sorbothane can act as a vibration dampener to absorb some of the vibration energy, essentially making the frequency lower and reducing wear and tear on an engine or electronic part.

Interested in learning more about Sorbothane’s solutions? Contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you and learning about your projects and products.