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Vibrations Vol 27 No 4 December 2010

Reducing and controlling vibration on a production machine
can be frustrating. Excessive vibration can cause premature
failures of bearings, seals, couplings, piping, and gears. In
addition, it can cause degradation of functioning instruments
and product quality. The five basic causes of the excessive
vibration are poor machine function, faulty design,
manufacturing defects, improper installation, and wear and
The forces that cause vibration are sometimes part of the
function of the machine. However many machines generate
excessive forces when operated out of their design range; e.g., a
pump that is operated off its best efficiency point. Designs that
are subject to resonant behavior or have flexible members are
sensitive to any type of forcing function. Loose tolerances in
manufacturing can cause excessive mass unbalance and subject
components to failure as a result of stress. Internal and external
misalignments create forces on bearings and couplings. Loose
bolts and inadequate foundations can increase vibration levels.
Finally wear and abuse degrade machine function and can lead
to premature failures. The problem has to be identified before a
method for vibration reduction is chosen.
The five basic methods available to reduce and control
unwanted mechanical vibration include force reduction, tuning,
mass addition, isolation, and damping. Force reduction can take
many different forms: balancing, alignment, repair, and
restricted operational parameters.
However in the case of reciprocating machines force
reduction is normally not an option. When resonance is a
problem, most analysts use tuning; that is, changing the natural
frequency or the forcing frequency of the machine. If the two
frequencies are close to each other, the solution can be difficult.
It might be necessary to change frequencies as much as 15%.
The forcing frequency is typically tied to machine performance
or the speed of the driver, so that changes are not simple. It is
therefore necessary to change the natural frequency. The natural
frequency is related to [k/m]

. It is thus the square root of the

stiffness and mass that is important.
Most analysts stiffen the structure when possible, but, if the
natural frequency is below the forcing frequency, mass addition
might be useful. Stiffeners add weight, which is
counterproductive to raising the natural frequency. For
example, horizontal beams are not an effective stiffener.
Figure 1 shows the key to effective tuning: a non-
dimensional plot of amplification versus frequency ratio for
various damping ratios (damping/critical damping). Critical
damping is the amount of damping in the system that will not
allow vibration. A rule-of- thumb for changes in the frequency
ratio is 15%. From Figure 1 it can be seen that, for a frequency
ratio change of 15%, large amplification reductions (up to
75%) are available for lightly-damped systems (C\Cc = 0.04).
Most rolling-element mounted machines fall into this range.
The bad news is that raising the natural frequency with an
increase in stiffness is difficult because its impact on the natural
frequency is only the square root of the stiffness. The other
problem is that stiffness will tend to decrease in time as a result
of joint deterioration and structural degradation. On the other
hand, when mass is increased to lower the natural frequency, its
effect is permanent. However, static strength may be
compromised. Figure 1 does show that, even for small changes
in natural frequency, an excellent reduction in amplification can
be achieved.
Mass addition to the foundation is usually used in
reciprocating machine installations. The idea is to make the
forcing function move more mass. Newtons 2
Law says that
F = Ma. Thus, a = F/M. Adding mass lowers the acceleration.
Some Thoughts on Vibration
Ronald L. Eshleman
Vibration Institute
Willowbrook, Illinois
Figure 1. Vibration Amplification.
Vibrations Vol 27 No 4 December 2010
Isolation rearranges the natural frequency so that the force is
out of phase with the vibration and works against the system
mass. This is accomplished by using isolators (e.g., springs,
rubber mounts). Isolation applications involve protecting the
environment from a vibrating machine and protecting an
instrument or machine from a vibrating environment. In either
case the system natural frequency must be positioned less than
0.707 times the forcing frequency (Figure 2). This is
accomplished by mounting the machine on an inertia block
mounted on isolators. Figure 2 shows that the greater the
frequency ratio the greater the isolation. This process does not
eliminate vibration energy; rather, it manages the energy to
protect the mounted item or the environment.
The final method of vibration reduction and probably most
difficult to implement is damping. It is the only mechanism
that eliminates vibration by changing it to heat. The other
vibration control mechanisms are often incorrectly referred
to as damping. Damping is usually quantified as percent of
critical damping where one is perfect, and zero means no
damping. Figure 2 shows the role of damping in vibration
control. Damping is most valuable at resonance, and that is
exactly where a machine should not operate. As shown in
Figure 2 damping reduces the effective isolation. However, the
machine must always pass through the natural frequency to
reach operating speed. This is sometimes accomplished in
lightly-damped systems with stops that restrict motion at
resonance. Except for fluid-film bearings damping is difficult
to implement in a system. Some rubber mounts can be
effective dampers but may have restrictions on achieving a
required stiffness.
Figure 2. Transmissibility.