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Anti-Vibration System — An Innovative Idea Picked Up from Woodpeckers

a photo of a woodpecker pecking a tree and a photo of a lab scientist doing an experiment beside it, symbolizing the woodpecker-inspired anti-vibration system that scientists have created

The superfast speed of a woodpecker’s peck has inspired scientists to come up with an innovative new anti-vibration system. Particularly, Dr. Jing Xing-jian and his team from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) created a bio-inspired, nonlinear anti-vibration system. According to reports, the fact that woodpeckers drill their way through wood at dramatic speeds while still maintaining a sense of body composure has helped experts come up with the groundbreaking new technology.

According to QS WOW NEWS, woodpeckers’ ability to absorb shock has inspired researchers to apply a similar science to the mechanical vibrations felt by workers using drills or other equipment to minimize the damage. The news further shares: “In the construction industry, the long-term mechanical vibration experienced by workers operating mechanical systems may cause discomfort, fatigue, injuries and even occupational disabilities. As such, anti-vibration measures are important for the health protection of construction workers.”

Reducing Vibration Improves Health and Safety

an image of an Anti-Vibration System spring
The woodpecker inspired the invention of a ‘shock-absorber’ device that can help construction workers!

The system has been proven to dramatically reduce mechanical vibration, “providing more reliable performance and better cost-efficiency than any existing technology in this aspect” as what the article says. In fact, the innovative new system is quite literally—excuse the pun—sending shockwaves through the tech industry. The invention recently won a prize at the TechConnect Global Innovation Awards 2017 and has received praise from the science and technology field worldwide.

Scientists found that “passive vibration control systems isolate or mitigate vibration through equipment such as rubber pads, shock absorbers and mechanical springs. In contrast, active vibration control systems apply equal force or energy in opposition to the vibration force.” The key to the scientists’ success was to somehow combine the passive and active vibration elements. Following research into a woodpecker’s ability to absorb vibrations, the team devised an X-shaped anti-vibration structure that combines the benefits of both passive and active systems.

As the report says: “It demonstrates nearly zero response to any vibration, providing quasi-zero low dynamic stiffness while maintaining high loading capacity. The unique nonlinearity of the system design also allows it to automatically provide high damping for strong vibration and low damping for small vibration.”

The Bold Idea of An Anti-Vibration System

Researchers were then able to apply this science to tools used in the construction industry by creating an assistive anti-vibration system—which is specifically an anti-vibration exoskeleton for handheld jackhammers. The device can absorb the vibrations given off by the machine providing a safe and harmless device for the worker.

Happily, this bold idea of an anti-vibration system is now set to be rolled out across the construction industry across America. Not only will it ensure work is completed in a timely fashion, but it will, most importantly, ensure the worker is protected so they can go about their business in a safe manner.

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