This Balancing Act Steadies Both Tools and Skyscrapers

What do your cutting tools and the world’s most high-tech skyscrapers have in common? Both sometimes need to be balanced—and Sandvik Coromant knows a lot about balancing physical forces out when vibration strikes.

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What do your cutting tools and the world’s most high-tech skyscrapers have in common? Both sometimes need to be balanced—and Sandvik Coromant knows a lot about balancing physical forces out when vibration strikes.

Sandvik Coromant took a look inside Taipei 101, a multi-use building towering 1,671 feet above Taipei, Taiwan. The area is vulnerable to typhoon winds and earthquake tremors, so the building needed to be able to stand up to shakes. A void between the 92nd and 87th floor is filled with an enormous pendulum—a steel tuned mass damper, weighing 727 tons.

Sandvik Coromant knows vibrations: its Silent Tools™ line uses tuned mass dampers to cut down on noise and vibration. Vibration is formally defined as oscillation around an equilibrium point in a mechanical system. So energy is built up, and when it releases, you get oscillation. Vibrations consume energy, make noise, and can generate bad component surface quality.

The company makes vibration damping tool holders for turning, milling, and boring. In a video exploration of tuned mass damping, TV host and automotive expert Edd China outlines how it works. Each tuned mass damper consists of three parts: the damping mass itself (a counterweight), springs (to tune it to the right frequency), and a proprietary oil, which adds damping.

The vibration damper can be placed inside tools of various sizes, but no matter what kind of tool you’re damping, the damping system should be placed as far to the front as possible. Depending on what type of machining tool is being used, the vibration-damping technology in it may be able to extend the length of the tool beyond what the physical capability of the material might otherwise be. That extended length allows for machining with long overhang in complex components, where it would otherwise be difficult to reach.

Inside that tool, the counterweight absorbs the kinetic energy of the vibrations, and uses a compensating frequency to eliminate them. This provides a way out for energy that would otherwise be released as noise or heat at the cutting edge, making the tool more efficient and safer to use.

To connect back to Taipei 101, Edd China and engineers from Sandvik Coromant built a model of a skyscraper, suspended above a loose frame that could be moved to simulate an earthquake or high-wind weather conditions. The expert engineers showed how adding a counterweight and oil to the model created a dramatic vibration damping effect, governed by predictable and proven physics. The energy is dispersed by the compensating frequency, the building sways only slightly.

On the factory floor, the difference between a noisy tool and a silent one can turn quality components into something great, add machining security, and lead to better productivity. Check out the full video below.
 

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