Tech Briefs

Variable-Tension-Cord Suspension/Vibration-Isolation System

Cord tensions are adjusted to optimize vibration-isolation properties.

A system for mechanical suspension and vibration isolation of a machine or instrument is based on the use of Kevlar (or equivalent aromatic polyamide) cord held in variable tension between the machine or instrument and a surrounding frame. The basic concept of such a tensioned-cord suspension system (including one in which the cords are made of aromatic polyamide fibers) is not new by itself; what is new here is the additional provision for adjusting the tension during operation to optimize vibration-isolation properties.

In the original application for which this system was conceived, the objective is to suspend a reciprocating cryocooler aboard a space shuttle and to prevent both (1) transmission of launch vibrations to the cryocooler and (2) transmission of vibrations from the cryocooler to samples in a chamber cooled by the cryocooler. The basic mechanical principle of this system can also be expected to be applicable to a variety of other systems in which there are requirements for cord suspension and vibration isolation. The reciprocating cryocooler of the original application is a generally axisymmetric object, and the surrounding frame is a generally axisymmetric object with windows (see figure). Two cords are threaded into a spokelike pattern between attachment rings on the cryocooler, holes in the cage, and cordtension- adjusting assemblies. Initially, the cord tensions are adjusted to at least the level necessary to suspend the cryocooler against gravitation. Accelerometers for measuring vibrations are mounted (1) on the cold tip of the cryocooler and (2) adjacent to the cage, on a structure that supports the cage. During operation, a technician observes the accelerometer outputs on an oscilloscope while manually adjusting the cord tensions in an effort to minimize the amount of vibration transmitted to and/or from the cryocooler.

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The Suspension/Vibration-Isolation System of the original application is depicted here at three successive stages of assembly.

A contemplated future version of the system would include a microprocessor based control subsystem that would include cord-tension actuators. This control subsystem would continually adjust the cord tension in response to accelerometer feedback to optimize vibration-isolation properties as required for various operating conditions. The control system could also adjust cord tensions (including setting the two cords to different tensions) to suppress resonances. Other future enhancements could include optimizing the cord material, thickness, and braid; optimizing the spoke patterns; and adding longitudinal cords for applications in which longitudinal stiffness and vibration suppression are required.

This work was done by Mark L. Villemarette, Joshua Boston, Judith Rinks, Pat Felice, Tim Stein, and Patrick Payne of Johnson Space Center. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/ tsp under the Mechanics category. MSC-23993

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