Learning Materials

Features

Discover

# Free Vibration

Unearth comprehensive insights into the concept of Free Vibration, an integral aspect of engineering across multiple disciplines. You'll delve into its fundamental theory, understand its prominence in everyday life and industry, and grasp its crucial role in engineered systems. The article deepens your knowledge through a tangible breakdown of its mathematical equation and offers a comparative analysis with Forced Vibration. This thoughtfully structured guide presents a deep dive into Free Vibration, opening the door to better understand its complexities and implications.

#### Create learning materials about Free Vibration with our free learning app!

• Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
• Everything you need to ace your exams

## Understanding Free Vibration: Definition and Basics

Free vibration is a fundamental concept in the field of Engineering, particularly within Mechanical and Civil Engineering. Grasping its meaning, as well as understanding the inherent theories behind it, can provide you with an essential skill set for analysing mechanical systems and structures.

Free Vibration is a type of vibration in which a system, after being set into motion, vibrates at its natural frequency without any external influence.

### What is Free Vibration Meaning?

The first step to understanding free vibration is knowing its core definition. Free vibration refers to the motion exhibited by a system or an object in response to an internal agency. In other words, it is the vibration that occurs in a mechanical system when it is allowed to oscillate about its equilibrium position freely. Free vibration takes place in the absence of external forces—once initiated; the system swings or oscillates back and forth due to its internal energy. Interestingly, every system tends to vibrate at its 'natural frequency.' This is the frequency at which a system would vibrate if only one vibratory cycle were initiated.

A prime example of free vibration is turning a simple pendulum. When you move the pendulum away from its equilibrium and let go; it will swing back and forth on its own. This movement is its own natural frequency, making it a classic representation of a free vibration.

### Introduction to the Theory Behind Free Vibration

In the theory of free vibration, a critical aspect to consider is the natural frequency of the system. The natural frequency is tied to the properties of the system itself, such as mass and stiffness, represented in the formula: $\text{Natural Frequency} (\omega) = \sqrt{\frac{k}{m}}$ where:
• $$k$$ is the stiffness of the system
• $$m$$ is the mass of the system

An intriguing aspect of free vibration is that no matter how large or small the initial displacement is, the system will always vibrate at the same frequency - its natural frequency.

When the system is disturbed from its equilibrium position and allowed to vibrate freely, the resulting motion will be sinusoidal and will continue indefinitely, provided that there is no damping or resistance to the motion. If any damping is present, it will gradually remove energy from the system and the amplitude of oscillation will decrease over time, until it eventually ceases altogether. A deeper understanding of free vibration behavior can prove valuable for design and analysis of several engineering applications such as bridges, buildings, automobile suspensions, engines, turbines, etc. where these principles are applied.

## Real-Life Free Vibration Examples

Now, armed with a fair understanding of free vibration from earlier sections, let's delve into some real-world examples. These instances, prevalent in your everyday life, will aid you in recognising free vibrations, making the abstract concept more tangible.

### Free Vibration in Everyday Life

Believe it or not, free vibration is at play in common sights you encounter on a daily basis. Let's look at some illustrative examples. - Swinging Pendulum: A popular example is the pendulum of a clock. When disturbed from its equilibrium state, it carries on to swing back-and-forth in a periodic manner at its own natural frequency, without any external input. The pendulum continues this oscillation, gradually dying out due to the resistance offered by air and friction at its pivot point. - Plucked Guitar String: If you've ever observed a plucked string of a guitar, you've seen free vibration in action. In this case, the string when plucked, vibrates at its natural frequency, brilliantly producing the desired musical note. Another clear example is a bouncing trampoline. After the initial jump, the trampoline will continue to oscillate up and down at its natural frequency until the energy gradually dissipates.

A fascinating point about these examples is that, regardless of the initial disturbance, the system will always oscillate at its natural frequency. This characteristic is why different strings of the guitar play different notes, as each string has its own natural frequency.

### Industrial Applications of Free Vibration

Industrial applications of free vibration principles are vast. They are used in the design, analysis and maintenance of various mechanical and civil structures.
• Automobile Suspension System: The suspension system of automobiles heavily relies on the concept of free vibration. The springs under cars tend to move up and down at their natural frequency when a bump is hit. The damping system present aids in gradually absorbing the energy to bring the spring back to its stationary state.
• Building and Bridge Designs: Understanding free vibration is crucial for architects and civil engineers as buildings and bridges are designed to have a natural frequency much different from the frequency of possible external vibratory loads, such as wind, traffic, or seismic activity. This is to minimise resonance - a phenomenon where maximum vibrations can occur.
• Rotor Balancing in Industries: Free vibration analysis is also used in balancing rotors in machinery. In rotating machinery, an unbalanced rotor will vibrate at the running speed of the machinery. This vibration is detected and corrected to prevent machinery failure and associated downtime.
 Application Description Automobile Suspension System Uses free vibration principles to absorb energy from bumps and help the vehicle move smoothly. Building and Bridge Designs Natural frequency of structures is made different from likely external vibratory loads to prevent maximum vibrations (resonance). Rotor Balancing in Industries Free vibration used to detect and correct unbalanced rotors to prevent machinery failure.
The understanding of free vibration behaviour endows you with the ability to design and analyse such critical industrial applications. Each example reaffirms the relevance of free vibrations, a concept you'll encounter frequently in your study and practice of engineering.

## Delving into Free Vibration Applications

Free vibration is not just an academic phenomenon but a vital concept that has extensive real-world applications. Its principles are integral to a large number of engineering projects and structures. It plays a significant role in a host of fields, from mechanical and civil to aerospace Engineering, greatly influencing design and functionality.

### Use of Free Vibration in Engineering

Free vibration is employed across an array of engineering tasks, impacting various aspects related to product durability, safety, and resilience. Here are some key instances where knowledge of free vibration is leveraged in engineering:
• Product Design: During the product design phase, engineers often need to ensure that any vibration experienced by their product does not induce resonance. To avoid this detrimental occurrence, designers incorporate the product's natural frequency, which is gleaned with the help of free vibration principles, in the design process.
• Maintenance: The maintenance or servicing of engineering products and machinery can also involve the concept of free vibration. Engineers often use free vibration principles to detect issues such as imbalances, misalignments, or other similar problems in their machinery which may alter the natural frequency of the system.
• Quality Control: Free vibration tests are commonly executed throughout the manufacturing domain to ensure quality control. Products are subjected to free vibration tests to verify their strength, durability and ability to withstand various situations.
These applications underscore how free vibration, with its central proposition focusing on the movement of systems in their natural frequency, influences a broad array of engineering spheres.

### Importance of Free Vibration in Structural Analysis

Structural analysis - an important application area of free vibration - can help engineers predict the performance of structures such as bridges, buildings, dams, and aircraft amongst others. When calamities like earthquakes or strong winds occur, these structures vibrate freely at their natural frequencies. Therefore, understanding these frequencies through structural analysis is pivotal in creating structures that are resistant to collapse or damage. The general mode of structural analysis involves a balance of forces 'in equilibrium.' Structural Engineers often use the formula: $\text{Sum of forces} (\Sigma F) = 0$ In other words, the sum of inertial force and the elastic restoring force should be equal to the applied force.

For instance, during an earthquake, the ground motion induces force on a building. To resist potential damage or collapse, the building must possess an equal and opposite force. If the building cannot generate the equivalent resisting force, structural failure could result, leading to severe consequences.

Moreover, understanding free vibration principles is also crucial in designing structures to 'avoid resonance.' Resonance occurs when a system's natural frequency matches the frequency of an external force applied to it, potentially leading to catastrophic results such as building or bridge collapse. Hence, it is pivotal to ascertain that a structure's natural frequency differs greatly from the connecting vibrating system to prevent resonance. Structural analysis comprises several analytical and numerical methods used to decipher the physical behavior of structures. Every assigned structure requires its own unique approach which makes knowledge of free vibration, a critical tool in structural engineering. This understanding is not just vital from a safety perspective but also impacts the economy, as the lifespan of a well-designed structure is higher, reducing the need for frequent maintenance and replacements. Ultimately, the concept of free vibration provides essential cementing grounds in the massive domes of engineering and structural analysis.

## The Mathematics Behind Free Vibration: Free Vibration Equation

Understanding the mathematics behind free vibration is important because it provides a solid foundation for recognising and solving real engineering problems associated with vibro-dynamics. A key to mastering the concept of free vibration lies within the Free Vibration Equation.

### Breaking Down the Free Vibration Equation

At the heart of free vibration is a simple but powerful equation known as the Free Vibration Equation or the Equation of Motion. Typically, this equation is represented as: $m \dfrac{d^2x}{dt^2} + c\dfrac{dx}{dt} + kx = 0$ Where:
• $$m$$ is the mass of the system
• $$c$$ is the damping coefficient
• $$k$$ is the stiffness coefficient
• $$x$$ denotes the displacement
• $$\frac{d^2x}{dt^2}$$ corresponds to acceleration
• $$\frac{dx}{dt}$$ signifies velocity
This equation succinctly presents the dynamics of a simple harmonic oscillator devoid of any external force. Each term embodies a separate but significant aspect of the physical properties of the vibrating system. The theory is rooted in Newton's second law of motion, which states that the force acting on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by the acceleration of the object. Each portion of the equation stands for a different type of force: - $$m \frac{d^2x}{dt^2}$$ represents the inertia force. - $$c \frac{dx}{dt}$$ signifies the damping force. - $$kx$$ represents the elasticity force. The equation tells us that the summation of these three forces is zero because the system is in equilibrium.

### Free Vibration Calculations: How-to

To perform free vibration calculations, the values of the parameters $$m$$, $$c$$, and $$k$$ must be known. These values can usually be calculated or measured based on the physical characteristics of the vibrating system. For instance, the mass $$m$$ of an item can typically be measured directly. The stiffness $$k$$ can often be calculated from the geometry and material properties of the object. The damping constant $$c$$ can be more challenging to determine and often requires experimental measurement or estimates based on empirical correlations. Once these parameters are determined, the Free Vibration Equation can be solved using appropriate mathematical methods. For example, consider a system with $$m = 1kg$$, $$k = 100Nm^{-1}$$, and $$c = 0$$ (no damping). The undamped natural frequency of the system ($$\omega_n$$) could be computed from these values using the formula: $\omega_n = \sqrt{\frac{k}{m}}$ Upon calculation, one would find the natural frequency of the system as $$\omega_n = 10 rad/s$$. Bear in mind, such calculations are greatly simplified for illustrative purposes. In reality, engineers often deal with more complex systems. Such systems may involve multiple degrees of freedom, non-linear properties, or a combination of modes of vibration, all of which necessitate more complex mathematical treatment. Nonetheless, the fundamental principles remain the same: understanding the properties of the vibrating system, utilising the Free Vibration Equation, and employing appropriate mathematical methods for problem-solving.

## Free Vibration vs Forced Vibration

Let's dive into the specific differences that distinguish free vibration from forced vibration. Both concepts are fundamental to vibration analysis, which is integral to understanding how structures and systems respond to different input conditions. Recognising their unique characteristics and effects will allow you to gain a comprehensive understanding of these two principal classes of vibration.

### Distinction Between Free Vibration and Forced Vibration

Free vibration and forced vibration, though similar in certain respects, fundamentally differ in terms of their eliciting factors and system responses. In order to distinguish them accurately, it would perhaps be best to first present their definitions.

Free Vibration: This occurs when a system vibrates or oscillates in the absence of any external forces, after being initially displaced from its equilibrium position. In this type of vibration, the system freely oscillates at its natural frequency.

An illustration of this phenomenon could be a simple pendulum. When it is displaced and released, it begins to oscillate back and forth freely. This swinging motion, powered by the pendulum's own inertia and gravity, is a vivid display of the free vibration phenomena.

Forced Vibration: In contrast, forced vibration involves an external force that keeps a system vibrating. The frequency of this vibration is equal to the frequency of the external force and not the natural frequency of the system.

Think of a child on a swing. When given an initial push, the swing moves or vibrates. But to keep the swing in motion at a steady rate, you need to continue pushing the swing in sync with its movements. The external force (push) keeps the system (swing) vibrating. This exemplifies forced vibration. In summary, the significant points of difference between free and forced vibration revolve around:
• The presence or absence of an external force.
• The frequency of system vibration. In free vibration, the system vibrates at its natural frequency while in forced vibration, the vibration frequency is determined by the external force applied.

### Comparing the Impacts of Free and Forced Vibration on Systems

Analyzing the impacts of free and forced vibration on systems is crucial in various engineering domains. The way these vibrations affect systems can offer pertinent insights that may inform important design and operational decisions. Free vibration has a significant role in determining a system's natural frequency. This basic property is pivotal in designing and operating numerous mechanical systems. For example, it's vital in designing machinery housings or mounts that need to avoid resonance. A system’s natural frequencies must always be considered during design stages to ensure its stability and reliability under operational conditions. Forced vibration, on the other hand, can induce fatigue and possible failure in systems – substantial enough to cause structural damage. This aspect is especially consequential in construction projects and design of buildings and bridges, as these structures must be able to handle the vibrations caused by various external forces such as traffic, wind, or earthquakes. Resonance, a phenomenon often associated with both these types of vibration, occurs when the frequency of the external force matches the natural frequency of the system. This can cause large oscillations and potentially lead to catastrophic failures. Engineers often aim to avoid resonance by ensuring a substantial difference between the natural frequencies of a system and the frequencies of any applied forces. In summary, the impacts of free and forced vibrations are considerable in:
• Assessing a system's response to external forces and vibrations.
• Enhancing the safety and longevity of mechanical and civil structures.
• Preventing or managing the risk of resonance.
Understanding these impacts can significantly assist engineers in designing and maintaining safe, efficient systems that are resistant to potential damage from vibration effects, ultimately reinforcing the criticality of comprehending the two classes of vibration.

## Free Vibration - Key takeaways

• Free vibration is a type of oscillation where the system vibrates at its natural frequency, regardless of the magnitude of the initial displacement.
• If damping is present, it will gradually remove energy from the system causing the amplitude of oscillation to decrease over time until it eventually ceases.
• Examples of free vibration include a swinging pendulum, plucked guitar string and a bouncing trampoline, each vibrating at their natural frequency.
• Free vibration has vast applications in industrial sectors, commonly used in automobile suspension systems, building and bridge designs, and rotor balancing in industries.
• Free Vibration Equation ( $$m \dfrac{d^2x}{dt^2} + c\dfrac{dx}{dt} + kx = 0$$ ) is a critical mathematical representation where $$m$$, $$c$$ and $$k$$ denote the mass, damping coefficient and stiffness coefficient of the system respectively.
• Free vibration differs from forced vibration; in free vibration, the system oscillates at its natural frequency without any external forces, whereas, in forced vibration, an external force keeps the system vibrating at the external force's frequency.

#### Flashcards in Free Vibration 38

###### Learn with 38 Free Vibration flashcards in the free StudySmarter app

We have 14,000 flashcards about Dynamic Landscapes.

What is free vibration? Please write in UK English.
Free vibration is a mechanical system's natural response when it is displaced from its equilibrium position and allowed to oscillate without any external influences or damping. It exhibits periodic motion.
What are free vibration and forced vibration? Write in UK English.
Free vibration is the natural response of a system to an initial disturbance. Forced vibration occurs when an external time-dependent force acts on a system, causing it to oscillate at the frequency of the applied force.
What is an example of free vibration? Please write in UK English.
An example of free vibration is a pendulum swinging back and forth. When the pendulum is displaced from its equilibrium position and released, it vibrates freely under its own natural frequency, without any external force acting on it.
What are the three types of vibration?
The three types of vibration in engineering are free vibration, forced vibration, and self-excited vibration.
How important is free vibration?
Free vibration is crucial in engineering as it allows for the analysis of natural frequencies and modes of a system without external forces. This assists in designing structures or machinery to avoid resonance and potential catastrophic failure.

## Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

What happens to the system under Free Vibration if damping is present?

What is the Free Vibration Equation in vibro-dynamics?

What is an everyday example of free vibration?

StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

##### StudySmarter Editorial Team

Team Engineering Teachers

• Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team