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Future shock: What's new in energy absorption, vibration isolation devices

Future shock: What's new in energy absorption, vibration isolation devices

'The challenge for everyone today is to meet the customer's performance requirements cost-effectively.' Dr. Edward Krasnicki is President of Enidine Inc., a leading supplier of energy absorption, vibration isolation, and electromechanical motion control products. The company supplies a unique range of product solutions, including industrial shock absorbers and rate controls, vibration isolation products, linear actuators and positioners. Krasnicki came to Enidine with more than 20 years experience in the motion control business. His educational experience includes a BSME from the University of Connecticut, an MSME from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California--Davis. He is the holder of several U.S. patents and has been published in many technical journals on the topic of vibration isolation.

Vibration isolation devices, industrial shock absorbers, rate controls, and other motion control products are not the passive devices of the past. Technology innovations keep pushing the envelope.

Design News: Enidine has recently had a number of recent product innovations and introductions--as have other companies in the field of motion control. What's driving these efforts?

Krasnicki: Primarily, customer demand is driving this. A number of recent product introductions we have had in the area of shock absorber technology have been the direct result of feedback from our customers.

We have been very proactive in growing our product line, particularly in adding new features and capabilities that came about as a result of the close partnership that we have with our OEMs and the knowledge that we have gained through our broad industry experience.

An example is in the machinery market, where our customers were being asked by their customers to provide equipment that could run for longer periods of time. Basically, what we needed to do was provide a shock absorber that could accommodate the higher speeds and longer cycle times. Another way that we can bring new solutions to meet customer demands is by integrating a completely different technology into the mix.

An example of this is that Enidine has really branched out of the energy absorption and energy isolation areas--which have been our stronghold--into the whole area of electromechanical product lines, including motor-driven lead screw actuators.

Q: What are some of the ways that you have enhanced your product offerings?

A: In our PRO/PM series of shock absorbers, we've engineered a solid one-piece construction. What this design change does is give the shock absorber greater shock force and energy capacity, which gives design engineers the capacity to run their equipment at higher production speeds and greater drive forces. We've also introduced a standard low-range shock absorber product family to handle heavy loads at slower speeds. Some other improvements to service life and ease-of-use are the integration of wrench flats, longer-life seals, heavy-duty piston buttons, and easy-to-use adjustment dials. Of course, the customer wants these enhancements at no extra cost, and we are always working to provide cost-effective solutions.

Q: Your own website mentions that approximately 50% of the applications today for the type of motion control solutions you provide require a custom solution. What's driving this trend, and do you expect it to continue?

A: The number of custom applications is definitely increasing, and the reason for it is that the market is demanding more specialized solutions to meet specific performance requirements, particularly in industries such as aerospace. Customization has become more popular as engineers try to push their own designs further, which typically requires some degree of fine-tuning of our products. These modifications can range from a pure custom unit to a modified standard. I do expect this trend to continue, which means Enidine must adapt its design methods. Given today's short design cycles, we are using new tools such as 3D CAD, solid modeling, and FEA analysis. This unique approach lets our engineers design, analyze, and test a solution before a physical prototype is ever built.

Q: Can you give us a preview of some of the technology developments on the horizon?

A: One of the areas that comes immediately to mind is hybrid designs, which involve combining the two technologies of vibration isolation and absorption into a single device. Another area that we're currently looking at involves the use of rheological fluids, which are fluids that change their viscosity either in an electric field or a magnetic field, to create actively-controlled motion control systems. These are devices that combine sensors, computers, software, and algorithms with the traditional energy absorption or vibration isolation devices.

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