Vibration isolation in high precision manufacturing: The benefits of inertia bases and bespoke engineering

Mason inertia baseWhat is the most effective anti-vibration technique for machinery? In high precision manufacturing, getting vibration isolation right is especially important as even a relatively small amount of vibration can disrupt the working of sensitive equipment. Here, Adam Fox, director of vibration isolation specialist Mason UK, explains the benefits of inertia bases.

Inertia bases are primarily used to support mechanical equipment. They are generally steel frames which are filled with concrete and supported by spring mounts to provide a large stable mass on resilient elements with a low natural frequency to provide a high level of isolation.

Different types of bases are used depending on the application. Larger bases might be used for pumps for example, while smaller bespoke bases might be installed for sensitive scientific equipment.

Getting the engineering right

In many applications, vibration isolation is not simply a case of picking a particular product off the shelf. In many instances, the product needs to be specifically designed for the unique demands of that project. You also need expert engineers who can assist with installation and onsite support.

This is especially so in precision manufacturing, or in applications involving the use of sensitive equipment such as blue-chip production, scientific laboratories or medical facilities. In these situations, a good level of vibration isolation is not enough. You often need above 98% isolation efficiency from the disturbing to make sure sensitive equipment performs as it is designed to do.

We’ve been involved in a number of such projects. For example, we had to isolate a vertical boring machine to prevent its operation from interfering with precision manufacturing facilities that were located nearby. We designed the bases, which were supported by Mason SLF spring isolators, and handled the installation. On this occasion, we also provided rubber dampers under the slab as part of a bespoke solution.

In another instance, we worked on a project where we needed to isolate sensitive ultrasonic equipment being used in pioneering cancer research. Vibration caused by nearby construction work was seriously impeding the use of this equipment, which operated at very high levels of precision. We had to design and install a steel base support by Mason MT Air Springs. Again, this was a bespoke design to fit the legs of the equipment precisely, as well as fitting within the existing raised access floor.

Inertia bases are especially effective at isolating disturbances caused by pumps and to isolate sensitive manufacturing equipment from external vibration sources. However, it is important that they are partnered with the right acoustic isolation products and in many cases, as we have seen, you need a solution that is bespoke. A good acoustic consultant can advise you on this, so make sure you get them involved in your project at the earliest possible stage.