Vibration Testing with Electrodynamic Shakers
Through vibration testing we can condense a lifetime of stress and wear into a short period of time, reveal hidden design weaknesses and validate durability.
It is very difficult to avoid vibration – it affects the safety and comfort of our vehicles, it affects the structural integrity of our buildings and bridges, and if we’re over-exposed to human vibration, it can even affect our health.
For example, the car, bus or train that you take to work each day will have been extensively tested to make sure it can withstand the mechanical shocks imposed on it – not only to ensure your safety, but also to ensure that you get a smooth ride. To make sure that the wing of an aircraft will not succumb to physical stress, it will have been subjected to measurements of great accuracy. A mobile phone must be able to withstand bouncing around in a backpack as well as being dropped on the floor several times. A satellite has to be able to survive the excessive vibration from being launched into space.
Vibration must be measured and evaluated, either because it causes an immediate problem or because the structure or product has to adhere to a standard or test specification. Vibration testing and monitoring helps manufacturers to ensure quality, reliability and durability of complete products and their components by providing insights into the inner world of vibration within products, machines and structures.
To ensure products can handle shocks and stresses within their service life, vibration testing comes into play. As an example, this applies to:
In order to ensure that the products customers receive are intact and fully-functional, it is essential that they can survive the journey from when they are boxed at the factory until they arrive at the end destination. Moreover, beyond merely withstanding short-term physical forces, developers need to ensure that their products will maintain the integrity and quality that represents the brand in the longer term.
Product qualification and verification is done through extensive simulation in the development phases, but simulation is not enough. It is also necessary to do physical testing on prototypes and end-of-line items, both to validate simulated results and to prove product durability to customers.
Vibration tests can reveal design weaknesses that would only become apparent during transport, deployment and use – like a helmet hitting the ground. Some of these tests, such as buzz, squeak and rattle (BSR) on vehicle interiors, can also detect the development of unwanted noise.
For environmental testing such as highly accelerated lifetime testing (HALT) and highly accelerated stress screening (HASS), it is necessary to combine vibration testing with environmental chambers to add the expansion stresses of rapid heating and cooling. These tests are typically conducted on industrial and electronic components and products, on medical equipment and on military hardware.
Where do the actual vibration test profiles originate? Customers, end users or manufacturers who incorporate a component into an assembly, often define vibration test specifications and procedures themselves.
These are typically based on experience and knowledge of which design solutions work well and which don’t. Vibration testing can provide a more structured approach to understanding failure modes and defects that are caused by vibration.
Many vibration testing profiles are defined by standards developed over many years. There are a lot of them and they are often dedicated to specific applications and products. Examples include DIN, ISO, BS, MIL, IEC and ASTM. The use of testing according to standards is especially the case for the aerospace and defence industries. These include MIL-STD-810, NATO STANAGs and AS/EN9100.
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