Two Types of Vibration Control

February 02, 2015

Vibration is probably one of the most difficult things that an engineer deals with on a regular basis. There are many different types of vibration, but they can all, in the wrong places, frequencies, or quantities, be terrible for machines. On a major structure like a bridge, the wrong type of vibration can cause an error that is literally fatal. In other situations, vibrations can cause machines to break down or simply to make annoying noises when they’re running. There are many types of vibration control that have developed over the years, and here are two.

One of the most basic types of vibration control is the vibration isolation technique. This basically is when the parts of a machine are separated from one another so that vibrations in the one don’t cause vibrations in the other. The most primitive form of isolation is the spring. Think about the function of a spring on an old-world buggy. The wheels are hitting lots of bumps and are vibrating at random, but the spring absorbs a lot of that energy, releasing it in a slightly different form. As a result, the ride is a bit bumpy, but not nearly as bumpy as it would have been had the wheels been attached directly to the body of the carriage. In more recent years, rubber and foam have been used for vibration isolation in many applications.

Vibration damping is a little more complex, and it involves a lot of numbers and calculations. Here’s a layman’s explanation. Basically, when a machine has moving parts, there will inevitably be vibrations. Vibrations all happen at a certain frequency. When the frequency of the vibrations in question resonates with certain parts of the machine, that is, makes them vibrate more, major problems could occur. In the case of a bridge, a resonant frequency could cause the whole thing to start swinging dangerously.

Instead of absorbing vibrations, a vibration damper actually just changes their frequencies. Often, it does a little bit of both, sometimes ridding the system of all extra vibration altogether. This isn’t always the case, though. Sometimes, the machine is simply switched to a different frequency so that the leftover frequencies aren’t harmful to the system as a whole.

That was pretty technical, but, in a nutshell, those are the two most popular ways to deal with the issue of vibration control. Each is useful in different situations. Different materials are often used for these two types of vibration control, but a recently created proprietary substance called Sorbothane can actually do the work of both, when used in the right way.

Sorbothane is visco-elastic. This means that it has some liquid-like properties, such as the ability to absorb vibrations. It also, though, has some qualities that are little like a spring. It can absorb vibration energy and release it later as heat energy. These qualities mean that Sorbothane can be used for both vibration isolation and vibration damping, depending on how it is used in the machine in question.

Interested in learning more about how Sorbothane can work as a vibration damper for your product? Contact us today to learn more.