Vibration Isolation in Industrial and Manufacturing Equipment
In a factory or other industrial setting, vibration isolation becomes important for a number of reasons. It is important to reduce, isolate or control vibration to:
- Protect sensitive machinery and parts to reduce wear and tear
- Reduce sound generated by the machinery, protecting the humans who must work around them
- Prevent movement by heavy machinery caused by excessive vibration, which can become a safety issue
- Stop vibrations that may interfere with the quality of the product that is being manufactured
Sensitive Machinery Parts and Vibration Isolation
A machine is typically made of at least two moving parts but in many cases can be made up of as many as hundreds of parts of varying sizes. Each of those parts has a role to play inside of the machine, moving in a certain way that makes the whole machine work. As the machine works, the parts might become old, dust can collect on their surfaces and fastenings can become looser.
All of these factors can cause the parts to move out of their designated pathways and can cause them to break down. In addition, the slightest bit of improper movement will speed up the wear and tear on the machine. In addition, each part has what is called a resonant frequency, which simply put is the speed (frequency) in which the part resonates (vibrates). When a part of the machine comes into contact with another part with that frequency, the movement that is generated can be quite substantial. This can greatly speed the wear and tear followed by eventual and total breakdown of the machine in question.
Vibration Isolation and Sound Reduction for the Protection of Humans
The larger a machine is, the louder it is likely to be. If you are a human stuck working in the area of those machines, it can quickly become very uncomfortable and can lead to serious problems with hearing up to and including deafness. To protect the humans and their hearing, vibration isolation systems are employed, absorbing some of the sounds that are created from the machines. These are typically pads that are placed under the machines but could be other types of systems as well.
Vibration Isolation to Keep Machines in Place
The simplest example to keep in mind is the basic washing machine. As it works, it has moving parts, the movement of the water and the movement of the clothing inside of it. When it works correctly, it is typically barely noticeable, but if just one thing is thrown off balance inside of that machine, the problems can become very serious. The more off balance, the more movement is created, which typically makes the machine “walk” across the room.
Heavy machines in an industrial setting can also have this problem but may be much more dangerous. Some of these machines can weight in excess of several tons. If they are moving out of their place, they can cause problems for the people working around them.
Vibration Isolation and Product Quality Standards
Unwanted vibration can change the quality of the product that is being made. Most machines are calibrated to the smallest degree- any additional movement can change the way that the product comes out. The problems can range from the very smallest variation to major defects that affect not only the overall quality but the safety of the finished item. Protection of the working parts and vibration isolation are key to keeping quality high and the number of recalls for safety issues low.
Sorbothane®, Vibration Isolation and Industrial Applications
In some machines, vibration isolation systems can include mounting hardware that absorbs some of the vibration before it goes through the rest of the machine. According to the laws of physics, energy (in this case, vibration) cannot be created or destroyed within a system. That energy can either be dissipated or used. Energy that is not being used will be turned into heat – the amount of the heat will be proportionate to the size of the machine as well as the speed of the movements it creates. Once the heat is generated it will typically be transferred to all the other parts of the machine, which can damage some of the more sensitive parts.
Another option, once that is often used under a machine, is the vibration isolation floor mat designed to absorb the vibration not only from the machine itself but from adjoining machines. In a large factory, several machines might be installed in a singular row, close enough to each other that their vibrations can affect others. The more machines that are placed in the same area, the louder the area will become as well.
The problem with finding the right vibration isolation system is the amount of heat that is being generated by these machines. While some machines might be designed to run “cooler” they will still have some heat that builds up. Some designs use a fan to cool vital parts, but that is simply yet another working part, which means additional vibration is being generated.
Some materials will claim to be rated for high heat situations, but the problem is the heat/cooling cycle. When exposed to high heat, the material gets soft and may even melt and become pliable. Then when the heat is removed, such as when the machine is shut down for the night, the material gets solid once again. During this heating/cooling cycle certain materials can become fragile or brittle and may break apart. That could cause even more problems than simply excessive vibration.
Sorbothane has a higher breaking point and can be exposed to higher temperatures without becoming brittle and increasing the risk of mechanical failure. It can be purchased for industrial applications either as a standard product or as a custom made, customer specific product.
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