Because of traffic, machinery, HVAC systems, weather, and natural frequency, everything vibrates. In an average building, approximately 70–75% of the vibrations are vertical. In laboratories, vibrations don’t have to be obvious for performance to suffer. Most vibrations are not even noticeable to a building’s occupants, but many cannot be tolerated by equipment used in research, precision manufacturing, inspection, and quality control. Day-to-day problems may include excessive signal noise, low-frequency jitter, and high-resolution image blur. At their worst, uncontrolled vibrations can cause sensitive electromechanical and optical equipment to undergo excessive wear and even structural damage.
If you think you might need vibration control, you probably do. Most sensitive work benefits from vibration isolation equipment, and installation costs are minimal compared with the costs of discovering later, after your new operation or facility is up and running, that your product is flawed or production is stalled due to unwanted vibrations.
The two most important factors to consider in choosing vibration isolation equipment are natural frequency and isolation efficiency. The best systems achieve very low natural frequencies and attenuate all potentially damaging vibration amplitudes in the 8- to 200-Hz broadband, random-vibration spectrum. However, there are many variables, so it is best to consult an expert who can help you find the most appropriate equipment for your location and requirements. Some manufacturers offer on-site vibration surveys to ascertain those potentially damaging vibration amplitudes and frequencies.
Where vibration is a problem, modern vibration-control solutions are available. These range from relatively simple mounts and breadboards to highly efficient air systems, active electronic systems, and negative-stiffness systems constructed with technologies and materials that take them far beyond conventional vibration isolators, such as rubber blocks and metal springs. While blocks and springs may still have their places, the increased sensitivity of the latest laboratory equipment usually makes more sophisticated vibration isolation a must.
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