About Active Vibration Control

About Active Vibration Control

Active vibration control systems, also called active vibration isolation or active vibration cancellation, are isolation systems that dynamically react to incoming vibrations. That is, they sense incoming vibrations and react to them, rather than passively reducing their effect by virtue of their mechanical structure.

There are two general types of active vibration cancellation systems: feedforward and feedback systems. Feedforward systems are specifically programmed to compensate for regular periodic vibrations. Feedback systems continually sense and react to incoming vibrations. Typical feedback systems have a sensing mechanism that senses incoming vibrations and an actuator which reacts to these vibrations, either by tuning an isolator to reduce the incoming vibrations or creating a signal which cancels them out.

Principles of Operation

Strictly speaking, the Table Stable isolation systems are hybrid systems that incorporate passive and active isolation elements. The passive component consists of stiff metal springs that support the load weight and provide isolation over a broad spectrum. These springs provide a basic level of isolation in the lower frequencies and excellent isolation in the higher frequencies (above 200 Hz). These systems also support the load while allowing for travel of the actuators in the active component.

The performance of the springs is augmented and corrected by an active isolation component.   The active isolation component consists of vibration sensors, control electronics, and actuators. The vibration sensors are piezo accelerometers. There are at least eight sensors in each isolation system. They are positioned in different orientations to sense in all six degrees of freedom. The piezo accelerometers convert kinetic vibration energy into electrical signals, which are transmitted to the control electronics. The electronics reconcile and process the signals from the various sensors using a proprietary algorithm. The electronics then send a cancellation signal to the actuators.

The piezo actuators are coupled to the sensors, so they appear in the same number, location, and orientation as the sensors. The actuators generate vibrations that are equal but out of phase with the incoming vibrations. This effect results in the cancellation of the incoming noise, leaving the load on top of the system undisturbed. This process occurs within 5–20 milliseconds of a vibration entering the system. (See image above.)

Benefits of the Feedback Loop

The sensors, electronics, and actuators create a feedback loop in the system. In addition to providing an extremely high level of attenuation for vibrations within the active range, the feedback loop provides other benefits. Foremost, the feedback loop effectively removes resonances that would otherwise be present in the system. It removes the low frequency resonance that plagues all passive vibration isolation systems. The feedback loop also performs “housekeeping,” by removing incidental resonances that are inherent to simple mechanical structures. The performance curve for the active systems exhibits a smooth roll-off, moving into the higher frequencies rather than a spiky curve that would indicate degraded performance at certain frequencies.

Another benefit of the feedback loop is that the system can utilize stiff metal springs for the passive component. Soft springs, like air or bungee springs, are utilized in passive isolation systems to push the low frequency resonance of the system as low as possible in order to increase the effective range of the isolator. This practice results in a very soft mount for the instrument that is loaded on top. The softer a mount is, the longer its settling time will be. Some systems require as long as a minute to settle and begin isolating again after disturbance from shock or bumping. Because they rely on stiff metal springs to support the load, Table Stable active isolation systems settle out and begin isolating within a second of a shock or disturbance.

Graph for settling time

Settling Time – TS vs. Passive

Advantages of Active Isolation

Table Stable active vibration isolation systems offer the following advantages:

  • No low frequency resonance
  • Isolation in the low frequencies
  • Internal feedback loop to dampen all mechanical resonances
  • Isolation in 6 degrees of freedom (instead of just X, Y, and Z)
  • Feedback system not requiring tuning to vibration levels
  • 5 to 20 millisecond response
  • No air required
  • No ongoing maintenance
  • Compact

There are two lines of active isolation systems available from Herzan: the TS Series and the AVI Series.

Download the original white paper describing the technology behind Table Stable active vibration control by clicking here.


To request more information or a quotation for this or other Herzan products, contact IL Photonics.

05-Dec-2021 Blog, Herzan, Optomechanics
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