April 8, 2020
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Army, university researchers use new test gear to  shake, rattle and roll

A new suite of laboratory equipment lets researchers shake rattle and roll experimental designs to discover new technology solutions for the Army of the future. Most equipment doesn’t work well when it’s being shaken really hard like people don’t work well when they’re being shaken really hard so anything we can do to reduce that amount of shaking is going to be a benefit to the Soldier and allow the Soldier to be more effective… allow the equipment to be more effective. Dr. Robert Haynes is a researcher at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The Army operates in a very dynamic environment. That environment is not one axis its multi-axial. So the equipment like the shaker that we’ve just brought online is designed to do exactly that, conduct experiments in multi-axial vibration. The way the machine works is through a large hydraulic power unit that pumps oil through 12 large cylinders that act as individual shaker units. These units provide a big force… basically a punch to the aluminum table. Researchers say they can precisely control how big that punch is. We set up a test in such a way that it’s very controlled. The response on the structure and on the table is very controlled. In their first set of major experiments since the equipment came online this summer, University of Michigan doctoral candidate Brittany Essink wanted to gather experimental data on her research project. I am studying vibrations in mechanical structures and I work on damping some of those vibrations as well as creating structures that can shift frequencies. So models on computers don’t necessarily behave exactly as you model them so it’s necessary to get experimental data in order to validate the model with these structures and the absorbers I designed, they can shift the natural frequency of structures away from that original frequency and that will help with using the equipment. The Army Research Laboratory collaborates with many universities on research that may be a value to the Army of the future. In this case the scientists said discovering new techniques to dampen vibrations could improve everything from gas turbine engine design to medical equipment. I learned that on a helicopter in certain situations doctors can’t use their stethoscopes because of the vibration from the helicopter interferes with using the stethoscope. With this type of structure, if you were to design a stethoscope medical device that uses this kind of technology you would be able to use it on a helicopter, which could save lives in dire situations. The test equipment is complicated. Its manufacturer worked closely with the team of Army researchers to install and calibrate the machinery and then traine the operators. For the tests that we’re running today the vibration level is pretty low because we don’t need to go any higher. Frankly the resonances that come out and the structure can be found at these low levels and we’re not damaging the structure. If we really gave it a good punch, we might break it. The point here is not to break it. The vibrations are virtually imperceptible to the human eye, but the sensitive equipment picks up on every movement. Here I can bring my experiment down and get a lot more data that I would be able to get in my lab. Haynes and his research team have many future projects on deck to maximize the beneficial data coming from this new facility. A lot of the work that we do is geared towards the new UAS systems that are going to be… we expect the Soldier will be using in the future [Music]

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