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Vibration Damping: What Is It, How It Works, Materials and More!

damping material diagram

A vibration is the result of the interactions between internal and external forces in industrial and household applications. It is caused by waves of energy, which means it has a frequency and an amplitude. If vibration energy isn't kept in check, it can cause far-reaching damage to the different applications and machinery in your workshop. To prevent this, you need to use vibration damping materials.

A vibration damper helps you achieve an optimal noise-reduction or noise control level by converting mechanical energy to thermal energy. This means it acts as a vibration absorber and reduces the amount of energy transmitted through a device.

In this article, we will look at how damping works, and the best vibration damping materials for your industrial needs.

In this article we will take a closer look at:

1. What is Vibration Damping?
2. How Does Vibration Damping Work?
3.Vibration Damping Materials
    > Rubber
    > Polyurethane
    > Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
4. How is Vibration Damping Used in Industrial Applications?
5. What Is The Most Common Damping Mechanism?
6. Summary

What Is Vibration Damping?

Vibration damping reduces the amount of energy produced by industrial, electronic, and ergonomic applications. It is common practice in several industries, including aerospace and automotive workshops. For a better understanding of this concept, you need to know what damping is.

Damping is the energy dissipation property of a material or system under cyclical stress. This refers to the ability of a material to bounce back from the disturbance to its steady state. Damping materials work by changing the vibrating surface's natural vibration frequency, lowering radiated noise and increasing the transmission loss of the material.

You should note that vibration damping and vibration isolation do not refer to the same practice, although they are often used interchangeably. While vibration-damping absorbs energy and dispels it to achieve significant noise reduction, vibration isolation prevents the generation of any energy in the first place.

How Does Vibration Damping Work?

Vibration damping reduces the level of vibration generated from plant elements and their components during industrial use. It does this by dissipating vibration energy, leading to a significant reduction in radiated noise. During this process, a proportion of energy is dispelled within the damping material itself.

Vibration damping materials do not have the same level of resistance. For instance, if you add conventional damping materials to surfaces, you'd discover they are not durable and have limited performance. On the other hand, sound damped sheet materials are rugged, hygienic, and have a higher performance.

A common question that comes up here is, "how are vibrations damped in metals and polymers?" Typically, two techniques work here — unconstrained layer damping and constrained layer damping.

Unconstrained layer damping involves sticking sheets of proprietary high damping material to thin metal panels, causing the damping to dissipate energy as it bends and stretches. Constrained damping dissipates the vibration energy across a laminated sound-deadened steel pan. Damping efficiency decreases with panel thickness, particularly for unconstrained layer damping.

Vibration Damping Materials

You should choose a vibration damping material based on the specific needs of your factory and the intended industrial applications. For better context, let's discuss the different types of vibration damping materials.


Rubber is the best vibration damping material because it quickly absorbs vibration energy and converts it to heat. Rubber has a relatively high shear modulus compared to other materials, which means it can dampen vibration energy quickly. Rubber also pairs nicely with other vibration materials like polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride.

Some qualities of rubber damping materials include:

  1. They are oil-resistant
  2. They are not affected by extreme operating environments
  3. They can withstand the impacts of sunlight exposure


These days, many manufacturers prefer vibration damping materials made from polyurethane. Polyurethanes come from the exothermic reactions between alcohols with two or more reactive hydroxyl and isocyanates. They belong to the family of plastics, and are exceptionally versatile, durable, flexible, adaptable, and resilient.

Like rubber, polyurethanes can absorb a system’s excess energy. Another advantage is that you can custom-engineer polyurethane vibration damping materials to fit specific applications.

Polyvinyl Chloride

Polyvinyl chloride is a synthetic resin made from the polymerization of vinyl chloride. It is the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer in industrial applications.

Polyvinyl chloride sheets work as sound barriers that dampen vibrations on enclosure surfaces. These sheets have superior chemical resistance and serve to absorb vibrations quickly. 

How is Vibration Damping Used in Industrial Applications?

Vibration dampers are used under machines of all types, including compressors, power presses and, conveyors

In large-scale industries, vibration damping is necessary to allow the machinery to successfully and safely operate. Vibration damping materials alter an equipment's natural vibration frequency, which reduces radiated noise and increases the transmission loss of the equipment.

Having a vibration damping material is a crucial requirement when designing electronic systems, as it reduces the chances of any damage to electronic components and connections. It also reduces fatigue which cuts maintenance costs significantly.

What Is the Most Common Damping Mechanism?

Viscoelastic damping is the most common damping mechanism, as it exhibits elastic and viscous behaviors. Viscoelastic means that the composite material exhibits both the viscous properties of liquids and elastic properties of solids.

Specifically, viscoelastic materials store some of the vibration energy generated during a load and then any remainder is released as heat because a viscous material doesn’t return any energy.

These days, the sorbothane damping mechanism has also become popular.

Sorbothane is a thermoset, polyether-based, polyurethane material. It has viscoelastic vibration damping properties and other properties that improve shock absorption, vibration isolation and vibration damping. As a result, his mechanism is a very efficient acoustic damper and absorber.


Take care when choosing the ideal vibration damping material for your devices and equipment in the factory or at home. The wrong decision can cause a lot of damage to your workshops, such as destroying electronic equipment, triggering data loss, and reducing efficiency and productivity.

At Reid Supply, we stock vibration damping materials that comply with the highest industry standards and guarantee optimal vibration control including anti-vibration pads for washers, isolators, mounts, levelling feet and accessories.

We employ a customer-centered approach to everything to ensure our equipment meets your specific industry and unique applications. Check out our catalog to see several product descriptions and find the right fit for your needs.