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Shock and Vibration
Volume 15 (2008), Issue 3-4, Pages 291-298

Structural Damping with Friction Beams

L. Gaul, J. Roseira, and J. Becker

Institute of Applied and Experimental Mechanics, Universität Stuttgart, Pfaffenwaldring 9, 70550 Stuttgart, Germany

Received 29 April 2007; Revised 29 April 2007

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the last several years, there has been increasing interest in the use of friction joints for enhancing damping in structures. The joints themselves are responsible for the major part of the energy dissipation in assembled structures. The dissipated work in a joint depends on both the applied normal force and the excitation force. For the case of a constant amplitude excitation force, there is an optimal normal force which maximizes the damping. A ‘passive’ approach would be employed in this instance. In most cases however, the excitation force, as well as the interface parameters such as the friction coefficient, normal pressure distribution, etc., are not constant. In these cases, a ‘semi-active’ approach, which implements an active varying normal force, is necessary. For the ‘passive’ and ‘semi-active’ approaches, the normal force has to be measured. Interestingly, since the normal force in a friction joint influences the local stiffness, the natural frequencies of the assembled structure can be tuned by adjusting the normal force. Experiments and simulations are performed for a simple laboratory structure consisting of two superposed beams with friction in the interface. Numerical simulation of the friction interface requires non-linear models. The response of the double beam system is simulated using a numerical algorithm programmed in MATLAB which models point-to-point friction with the Masing friction model. Numerical predictions and measurements of the double beam free vibration response are compared. A practical application is then described, in which a friction beam is used to damp the vibrations of the work piece table on a milling machine. The increased damping of the table reduces vibration amplitudes, which in turn results in enhanced surface quality of the machined parts, reduction in machine tool wear, and potentially higher feed rates. Optimal positioning of the friction beams is based on knowledge of the mode shapes, which are obtained from experimental modal analysis. The modal damping and the natural frequencies for the two dominant modes are measured for several combinations of excitation force and normal force.