Active and passive vibration damping to avoid resonance, perturbations and tonality
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The offer is from a Belgian company and technology provider that specializes in vibration control and has an extensive track record with respect to both active and passive damping and anti-noise systems: Structural damping avoids perturbations being amplified by structural resonances, and anti-noise consists of cancelling the vibration by generating a force opposite to the incoming perturbation.
Reduction and cancellation of vibrations in machinery or processes leads to better performance, reliability, lifetime and comfort. The application field for vibration reduction is therefore endless.
The company offers – apart from extensive know-how and expertise – prompt vibration diagnosis, requirement specifications, custom-made compact vibration damping and commissioning.
Vibrations play a critical role in machine limitations, starting from the conventional limitations of machine performances (e.g. printing resolution) and machine reliability (fatigue and wear), to more sophisticated phenomena like chatter (machine tool instability) or control-flexibility interaction.
There are three main methods to counter these effects, each of them being implemented by either active or passive means. These are vibration isolation, vibration damping and anti-noise.
Vibration isolation prevents perturbations from reaching the sensitive payload (an example is a car’s suspension system).
Structural damping avoids perturbations being amplified by structural resonances.
Anti-noise consists of cancelling the vibration by generating a force opposite to the incoming perturbation. Whenever the sensitive area cannot be isolated from the vibration excitation forces and whenever the vibrations are not amplified by the mechanical structure but primarily transmitted, the only remaining method to reduce the vibration (without a complete re-design of the system) is the anti-noise technique, where a force opposite to the vibration excitation (same frequency, same amplitude but opposite phase) is generated resulting in a destructive interference process. Active anti-noise systems are open-loop devices, relying on actuators, sensors and a feed-forward control algorithm.
Passive anti-vibration systems, both damping and anti-noise, are often based on Tuned Mass Absorbers or TMA, where an oscillating spring-mass system is mounted on the target structure, i.e. at the location where the vibration is to be cancelled out. This TMA will absorb the vibration energy in a frequency band around its own resonance/tuning frequency. Thus, around that given frequency, the vibration energy is transferred into the TMA but not damped.
Vibration reduction requires dedicated mechanical design and expert knowledge of the problem and its possible and compatible solutions. For example, TMA technology is well suited to addressing acoustic tonality issues (wind turbine gearbox, compressor …) where the vibration energy is transferred in a secondary device whose acoustic emission is drastically reduced.
This Belgian company has an extensive track record and offers innovative solutions regarding vibration control, sensing systems and high precision mechanisms, working in collaboration with its customers.
Innovations and advantages of the offer
While vibration reduction technology has been well known for years and seems conceptually ‘simple’, each implementation requires specific attention. That is the reason why this company does not just manufacture custom-made highly effective isolation, damping or cancelling systems, but also promptly provides experienced support for vibration diagnosis, requirement specifications, and commissioning.
The company’s know-how is essential in the process: Aspects such as added weight, tuning frequency, available space, environmental factors, and manufacturing costs are taken into account. The mechanical interface design is of primary importance. Poor interface design can drastically reduce the absorption performance. Sometimes it can make the situation even be worse than before! Due to its extensive (Space) expertise, the company can provide solutions within short time frames.
The technology provided by the company has the advantage of being compact; non-intrusive (no structural modification is needed); additive (the more you attach to the structure or machine, the more damping you get); needing no external mechanical connections and have a wide operating bandwidth.
Active dampers are based on the principle that accelerating a suspended mass results in a reaction force on the supporting structure. An embedded sensor monitors the supporting structure vibration. The sensor readings are sent to an external feedback controller that drives the internal electromagnetic actuator of the active damping device. The company specializes not only in actuators but also in the sensing technology to achieve a complete custom solution with respect to active damping. They damp several modes within its operating bandwidth (typically between 25 and 2000Hz). This allows efficiency to be maintained even when there is structural variability. Impressive damping ratios have been achieved on a 400kg structure with a 20gr actuator.
Passive systems like the TMA are not to be underestimated when used in applicable situations (they function in a narrow frequency band and for constant frequency perturbations only). They require/use no external energy and can be highly effective when custom-designed to fit the problem.
A huge diversity of application domains exists, for instance:
- Wind turbine noise reduction: TMAs are located on the gearbox torque arms to avoid unwanted acoustic tonalities due to gearbox harmonic vibrations transmitted to the tower.
- Compressors vibration propagation and noise reduction: TMA are located either at the resilient supports, to avoid structure borne acoustics, or at the compressor output, to avoid transmission to the piping network.
- Piping: TMA can be located at critical locations to avoid leaks and limit fatigue due to the fluid pulsations.
- Transport comfort: Reduction of vibro-acoustic tonalities.
- Scientific equipment performance improvement: Reduction of micro-vibrations in high-end instruments (e.g. telescopes, electronic microscopes, etc.) due to utilities delivery (e.g. compressors, vacuum pumps, etc.).
- Household appliances and handheld devices (e.g. electric clippers, power tools, etc.).
Description of Space Heritage
Below is a list of the ESA projects that have stimulated the technology development:
- MABE: a 3 DOF magnetic bearing mechanism (tested in zero-g)
- SEMABE: Low Power space electronics for magnetics bearings
- LSSP: a 6 DOF active isolation platform (tested in zero-g)
- SRIM: Development of a Smart Rubber Isolation Mount
- DARWIN: a 1 DOF magnetic bearing mechanism for the DARWIN delay line
- SSPA: active damping of large satellite appendices
- SADD: Stand-Alone Space Active Damping Device
- SAFARI SPICA: a 1 DOF magnetic bearing mechanism for the SAFARI SPICA Fourier Transform Spectrometer Mechanism
The knowhow of magnetic bearings (Darwin project & Spica project) was for instance used to create active noise control. Furthermore, the extensive knowhow on sensors, actuators and control from space, allows the company to develop solutions in a short timeframe. The same simulation & calculation tools develop for the space projects are also being used to solve earthbound vibration problems.
Comments on the technology by the broker
Acoustic, tonality and vibration problems emerge in a multitude of fields and application areas. At this moment it seems there is a trend in consumer and industrial goods to take vibrational but also acoustical comfort into account. The active systems can isolate, dampen or cancel out vibrations in a broad and variable frequency range. Tuned Mass Absorbers can even passively (without the need for electrical power) increase performance, reliability and comfort of many machines/systems by reducing vibrations and noise.