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What is Shock Isolation?

By Donn Saylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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In mechanical engineering, shock isolation is the utilization of isolating devices to lessen the effects of shock on a mechanism. Shock results in a device when some type of force thrusts energy throughout the apparatus, usually with great pressure in an abbreviated length of time. Shock isolators absorb the excess energy and reduce harmful impact on the instrument.

The degree of shock is measured by a pulse of energy or a direct impact. There are many different types of pulse shapes; each one affects the intensity of the shock differently and how the shock isolation system will respond. Half-sine, versed-sine, rectangular, and triangular are among the most common pulse varieties.

A shock isolator amasses the energy emitted during the initial tremor and releases it at a rate much slower than it was absorbed. This is achieved by the isolator first deflecting the shock, then gathering the impact and storing it. The isolator then discharges the vibration according to its natural frequency design.

Rubber is one of the most popular materials utilized in the manufacturing of shock isolators, offering protection against smaller-scale impacts. For more heavy duty equipment, a stronger shock vibration isolator may be necessary. These can be made from plastics, cork, steel, or special polymers, to name a few.

The demands placed on the shock isolation system depend upon several factors. First and foremost, the intensity of the shock is considered. The impact comes in contact with the floor of the mechanism, which deflects the force; this action can be large or small, depending on the makeup of the floor and the degree of the shock. If the floor produces a low level of deflection, a larger shock will result. The efficiency of a shock isolation tool is not measured by a ratio of output to input, but rather by the force as it moves through the isolator and deflects off the floor.

Shock isolation products serve a wide variety of industries and situations. In earthquake prone areas, many devices rely on shock isolation mounts to absorb tremors and ensure public safety. These mounts are affixed to an array of equipment, from simple drawers and shelves to complex mechanical apparatuses.

A shock isolation mount might also be used in military equipment or in mobile broadcasting units, two areas where it is vital to have an environment free of vibration. Shock isolators are employed by NASA and the Air Force in dealing with the impact of wind motion. They are utilized in certain motor vehicles to reduce shaking and maintain the effectiveness and lifespan of the engine parts.

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