What is Vibration Control testing?
Vibration control testing, also known as environmental simulation, allows engineering to validate the reliability of their products through controlled and consistent testing. These tests typically accelerate the durability validation process by producing equivalent lifetime contributions of vibration, but in less time. Companies that employ a vibration control program benefit from a positive ROI with reduced warranty, highly reliable products, and increased customer satisfaction.
Vibration control testing is the reproduction of equivalent vibration and/or shock environment experienced in the field or in a laboratory. This is typically, but not always, performed on an electrodynamic exciter also known as a shaker as shown in Figure 1. Vibration levels at key locations on the test object are controlled and monitored using a vibration control system.
A physical test object is subjected to an equivalent amount of vibration that it would experience in the field in a laboratory setting where the test can be controlled as shown in Figure 2.
Vibration control tests are typically part of a larger environmental testing campaign to ensure a product will function properly in extreme environments. Besides vibration and shock, environmental tests also include:
Sometimes these tests are combined, for example, vibration testing may be combined with a climatic temperature chamber as shown in Figure 3.
Vibration control tests are used to reproduce events like aircraft take-off/landings, rocket launch, and transportation over rough terrain, etc. Additionally, vibrations tests are used to screen for workmanship problems, catch premature failures, and improving analytical models.
Performing a vibration test in a laboratory setting has many advantages over field testing:
To reproduce the vibration, a vibration shaker control system is used, which consists of specific parts to recreate the vibration environment.
Vibration Control System
The typical vibration control system consists of several different elements as shown in Figure 4.
Each element in the vibration control system has a specific purpose:
Test Article and Transducers
These components are put together into a system as shown in Figure 8.
A selfcheck test is often performed prior to running a vibration control test to ensure that the complete system (frontends, amplifiers, transducers, shaker, test objects,...) are functioning and assembled correctly.
There are several different types of vibration modes that can be reproduced including sine, random, and shock as described in the next section.
Types of Vibration Control
The most common types of vibration reproduced by a shaker system is sine, random, and shock. In fact some believe over random and sine makes up over 70% of all the environmental simulation testing.
In a random vibration test, a wide range of frequencies are excited and measured simultaneously as shown in Figure 9. The majority of vibration experienced by the test item in operational service is broadband in spectral content. That is, vibration is present at all frequencies over a relatively wide frequency range at varying intensities. Vibration amplitudes may vary randomly, periodically, or as a combination of mixed random and periodic.
Typically, a Power Spectral Density function is used as the target vibration, reference profile. Random vibration is often used for high number of cycle, low amplitude fatigue. Common test objects include small electronic components like electric circuit boards, avionic boxes, a complete missile and a full spacecraft.
More details about Random Control can be found here:
Random with Kurtosis Control
Because not all vibration is Gaussian distributed random, time at peak vibrations can increased or decreased as shown in Figure 10. By controlling the kurtosis of the random signal, the probability distribution of vibration amplitudes are controlled.
The kurtosis statistic is used to measure the amount of peaks or “spikes” in the random vibration as shown in Figure 7. When kurtosis is equal to zero, there are less spikes and the random vibration is close to Gaussian random in distribution. The amount of spikes in kurtosis greater than 0 increases as the kurtosis number increases from zero.
Sine vibration is expressed as acceleration and a frequency. An environment dominated by sine vibration is characterized by a fundamental frequency and harmonics (multiples) of that fundamental. Often there will be more than one fundamental frequency. Each fundamental will generate harmonics.
The service vibration environment in some cases (low performance propeller aircraft and helicopters for example) contains excitation that is basically sinusoidal in nature, and with a very low broadband background. The excitation derives from engine rotational speeds, propeller and turbine blade passage frequencies, rotor blade passage, and their harmonics.
More details on Sine Control can be found here:
It is sometimes desirable to excite a structure at its resonant frequencies for an extended period of time to study the effects of fatigue on damping and possible resonant frequency shifts. Sine Dwell testing is commonly performed on aircraft engine blades, power generation turbines and vibration isolators.
Shock tests are performed to provide a degree of confidence that the unit under test can physically and functionally withstand transients encountered in handling, transportation, and service environments.
The procedures available for shock testing include:
Depending on the environment to be simulated a Classical Shock or Shock Response method will be selected. Typically performed on a shaker system Classical Pulses include Half Sine, Terminal Saw tooth, Square Wave and Trapezoidal.
It is also common to use a Shock Response Spectrum (SRS) as the target for a shock test. A Shock Response Spectrum (SRS) is a graphical representation of a shock, or any other transient acceleration input, in terms of how multiple Single Degree Of Freedom (SDOF) systems (like a mass on a spring) would respond to the transient input over a defined frequency bandwidth.
Mixed Modes – In some cases, the vibration environment is characterized by quasi-periodic excitation from reciprocating or rotating structures and mechanisms (e.g., rotor blades, propellers, pistons, gunfire). When this form of excitation predominates, source dwell vibration is appropriate. Source dwell is characterized by broadband random vibration, with higher level narrowband random, or sinusoidal vibration superimposed.
Time Waveform Replication (TWR)
Time waveform testing consists of the replication of either measured or analytically specified time trace(s) in the laboratory with a single exciter in a single direction, and is performed to accurately preserve the spectral and temporal characteristics of the environment.
Until recently, the replication of time traces representing measured samples of field environments varying in time and even frequency, or a combination of both time/frequency variations, was not possible using commonly available exciter control system software. The advent of more powerful data processing hardware/software, and the implementation of advanced control strategies, has led to exciter control system hardware and software that permit convenient replication of extended time-varying test environments on a single exciter in a single direction in the laboratory. TWR test methodology strongly reflects the concept of “test tailoring.”
Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MIMO) vibration refers to input of a multiple drive signals to an exciter system configuration in a MDOF configuration, and multiple measured outputs from the fixture or test item in a MDOF configuration as shown in Figure 17.
It is important to note that generally there is no one-to-one correspondence between inputs and outputs, and the number of inputs and number of outputs may be different. MIMO Control is utilized in two different applications:
In acoustic control, a diffuse sound field is generated in a reverberation chamber. Normally wide band random excitation is provided and the reference spectrum is shaped. This test is applicable to materiel or structures that have to function or survive in an acoustic noise field such aerospace vehicles, launch vehicles, power plants and other sources of high intensity acoustics.
Since this test provides an efficient means of inducing vibration above 100 Hz, the test may also be used to complement a mechanical vibration test, using acoustic energy to induce mechanical responses in internally mounted material.
Direct Field Acoustic Noise (DFAN) Testing
The Direct Field Acoustic Noise method, also named DFAN in the U.S., has been developed and is partly used today for qualification of satellites and componets. The availability of commercial loudspeakers and amplifiers capable of generating the sound field required in a test has made the development of the direct field acoustic excitation method possible.
In a DFAN test, the specimen is placed in the middle of a loudspeaker circle and gets excited by a direct acoustic field. Modern loudspeakers and amplifiers deliver the required high decibels to obtain the target overall sound pressure level (OASPL). The vibration levels measured on the specimen during the DFAN test are comparable with those measured with reverberant field acoustic excitation.
See Knowledge Base article: Direct Field Acoustic Noise (DFAN) Testing for more details.
Vibration control testing is used by many different industries to qualify and improve the life of various manufactured products, including:
Military equipment must survive intense environmental conditions while in service. Military standards are often used even in testing commercial products. The military environmental standard MIL-STD 810 was one of the first comprehensive vibration standards and is often referred to throughout industry.
It is not uncommon when testing military equipment that 100% testing is required for all units.
During launch and in space, satellites are subjected to tremendous amount of vibration and shock, which requires extensive testing and verification before launch.
Satellites are subject to several different types of tests during vibration qualification:
In transit a product can undergo excessive vibration and shock. Everything including off the shelf commercial items should go through excessive survivability testing. This includes the testing of the within the packaging.
To operate out of the box after transit and maintain long term reliability more and more manufactures utilize environmental stress screening to find workmanship problems and create premature failures prior to delivery.
Commercial and noncommercial electronics alike must work on demand. Complicated circuit boards, avionic boxes, car entertainment systems, airbags, field communication systems, cell phones, computers, televisions ….. are all subjected to some form of vibration and shock prior to delivery.
Glossary of Standards for Environmental Testing
Defense and Space Standards:
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