Active and Semi-Active Vibration Isolation

[+] Author and Article Information
D. Karnopp

Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616

J. Mech. Des 117(B), 177-185 (Jun 01, 1995) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2836452 History: Received October 01, 1994; Online January 24, 2008


In the five decades since the founding of the ASME Design Engineering Division, the important problem of vibration isolation has been attacked first through the design of passive spring-damper suspensions and later by the use of active and semi-active elements. This paper reviews the historical development of theoretical concepts necessary for the design of isolation systems and indicates how control theory began to influence vibration isolation in the last half of this period. Practical active and semi-active suspensions have only recently become possible with the advent of powerful but relatively inexpensive signal processors. To illustrate these developments for engineers who have not been intimately involved with active systems, only simple vibrational system models will be discussed, although some modern hardware will be shown which is now being applied to complex systems. Instead of attempting to review the many theoretical concepts which have been proposed for active systems, this article will focus on a relatively simple idea with which the author has been associated over the past thirty years; namely the “skyhook” damper. This idea came through purely theoretical studies but is now used in combination with other concepts in production suspension systems. Two quite different application areas will be discussed. The first involves stable platforms to provide extreme isolation for delicate manufacturing operations against seismic inputs and the second involves automotive suspensions. Although similar concepts are found in these two application areas, the widely varying requirements result in very different suspension hardware. The special case of the semi-active damper, which requires very little control power and is presently reaching production, will also be discussed.

Copyright © 1995 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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