Case Study: Vibration and Precision Lab Equipment, How Sorbothane Helps

February 02, 2015

That precision medical lab equipment must be specifically calibrated cannot be denied. The level of precision that is required for these machines is typically at a level that is unheard of and hard to understand for the lay person. Every value that comes out of a lab must be certifiable as accurate or they will not be worthwhile. For instance, when a doctor sends a sample to the lab, he is testing for a disease or condition. If there is any chance of that condition, the lab equipment should be able to detect it. If the equipment is off by just a tiny bit, it may not detect the clues that are present in the sample that is being used. That may mean that the testing will need to be done again, different types of testing will need to be explored or the disease will go undetected until it is at a much more serious stage.

To be treated effectively, most diseases need to be caught as early as possible and that can only be done with proper lab testing and perfectly accurate lab equipment.

In a lab, there are a number of sources of vibration. These include:

  • Vibration and noise from outside of the lab
  • Vibration generated by other lab equipment
  • Vibration from the floor caused by lab techs as they walk back and forth to complete their work

Vibration and Noise Generated from Outside of the Lab Itself

Most medical labs are located inside of hospitals or medical clinics, but some are also located as standalone units. Regardless of where they are located, the lab can be at risk for a number of vibration sources. In the hospital, a lab is usually in the lower levels of the building. It might be located near other lab equipment such as an MRI scanner, X-ray machines or even the elevators. All of these are useful, of course, but they also cause a lot of movement (vibration) that can affect the lab equipment, especially very sensitive machines that are delicate and need to be perfectly on target.

The stand-alone lab might have vibration that is generated by traffic – the closer it sits to the road way, the more this vibration can affect quality inside. Most of the time, this vibration is slight or not even noticeable, at least for the people, but is enough to cause slight changes in the super precise equipment inside.

Vibration Generated by Other Lab Equipment

Each machine in the lab creates its own vibration, even the machines that are not technically “lab” machines such as the phones, the computers and the copy machine. They are all important for the running of the lab but can throw off the values that are being investigated by the techs. As one machine kicks in to perform a cycle, it can vibrate enough to cause a problem with the one next to it. In most labs, there are several different types of machines all set up in rows near to one another. The smaller the setup of the lab, the more potential damage can be caused by the vibration that is created by each machine placed close to one another.

Vibration from the Floor Caused by Lab Techs

Labs are very busy. Lab techs walk back and forth between machines getting lab values, starting and stopping tests and moving samples. They are getting up and down from chairs and stools. As they walk by, they are creating vibrations that not only affect the delicate lab equipment but also create fatigue in their own legs. If the lab floor is made of hard cement, the vibration created may be slightly reduced, but the fatigue factor is much higher. After eight hours on their feet, the techs might start walking with more plodding steps, which in turn can generate even more vibration without them even realizing it.

The Solution for Vibration Control

To reduce the vibration that is affecting precision equipment in the lab, Sorbothane® was used in a number of different applications. Sorbothane, a viscoelastic polymer blend, can be used in both standard products and applications or as a customized product that is made through discussions with a Sorbothane designer who can work with you to find the best vibration reduction solution.

To reduce the vibration from the floor that is affecting precision, it can be as simple as using a Sorbothane mat that absorbs the foot traffic generated vibration. To reduce the fatigue of standing and walking on a hard floor, the lab techs can use Sorbothane shoe insoles. These absorb much of the leg fatiguing impact and dissipate it as slight heat, allowing the techs to complete their work each day with less stress and strain on their lower bodies.

Other systems and solutions include using Sorbothane softened mounts that control the vibration from each machine, keeping it from generating additional vibration and affecting neighboring equipment. In addition, Sorbothane can be used as part of the building itself, for instance, behind the walls to reduce the amount of vibration that can be felt from the outside. This can be especially beneficial to a hospital based lab located near the MRI scanners or the elevators.

Sorbothane is versatile and can be designed to fit any need whether it is a big or small application. It can also be created to suit any thickness, special color blends or other specializations. 

Want to learn more about creating your own Sorbothane vibration reduction system? Contact us today.