Damping is the act of reducing or preventing the movements of an oscillatory system. If a system is fully damped, it means that the oscillations, and their resulting vibrations, have been fully eliminated. More often, dampening does not eliminate the oscillations entirely, but enough such that the remaining oscillations cannot cause damage to the system, or create excessive noise or vibration. Every oscillatory system possesses energy. This energy takes the form of vibrations and noises, which if not limited or controlled, have the potential to damage parts of the system. For example, a piece of heavy machinery often produces large amounts of vibration and without any measures taken to dampen that vibration, the machine could be subject to increased wear. Therefore in such systems steps have to be taken to dampen or prevent vibration completely.
In cases where reduction in oscillations is achieved without altering the source of the vibration, such as a motor, dampening is said to have occurred. An oscillatory system can be over damped, under damped or critically damped. In either of the three states, the system is left with a frequency of oscillation that is less than the original oscillatory frequency if no damping were to occur. In special cases, the system can also be left undamped in which case it retains its original resonance frequency.
Vibration dampening is very important in various industries. In particular, it is very important in the aircraft industry where aircraft makers do everything in their power to come up with planes which can isolate external vibrations. This is very important because the functionality of any flight control boards depends on their ability to keep out external vibrations. Aircraft makers often use vibration damping materials to easily isolate the flight control panel so it does not get influenced by external vibrations.
There are numerous tests that are carried out before the optimal vibration dampening material can be chosen. If there were no measures taken to dampen the system, there could be serious consequences during flight if the control board was exposed to very huge external vibrations. Another practical application of dampening is in the prevention of vibrations in a hydraulic system. Both external shock and vibrations can have an impact on the performance of a hydraulic system. Hence there are needs to dampen vibrations at all costs in such systems. Similarly, there are also certain electronic devices that cannot function properly if they are not shielded from external vibrations. For example, some electronic devices found on a car may not function properly if they are not shielded against the effects of external vibrations. Generally speaking, proper vibration dampening protects components of a system from any vibration that is produced by the system, thereby improving performance and shelf-life of the system in use.
Vibration dampening is also important from a noise disturbance control perspective as well. In areas where sound can prove to be a problem, its waves can be dampened through the use ofoptimal vibration dampening materials. There are many materials that can be used to dampen vibrations. Some of these include polyvinyl chloride and some visco-eslastic liquids which are commonly used to prevent the effect of sound vibrations on certain operating devices.