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29 July 2004 Development of a variable stiffness spring for adaptive vibration isolators
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Variable stiffness springs allow vibration absorbers and isolators to adapt to changing operating conditions. This paper describes the development of such a spring. The spring was a compound leaf spring and variable stiffness was achieved by separating the two leaf springs using a wax actuator. In the selected design, each spring consisted of an outer (220mm in diameter) and an inner ring connected by three radial beams. A paraffin wax actuator was chosen to affect the separation of the leaf springs. This actuator consisted of a small copper cup containing paraffin wax. When the wax is heated, it changes from a solid to a liquid with an associated volume change that is used to drive an output shaft. A hot-air gun was used to heat and cool the wax actuator. It was found that the wax actuator could produce an 8mm separation of the springs, which increased the stiffness of the spring by 2.7 times, exceeding the typical requirement for adaptive absorbers and isolators. The loss factor, of the variable stiffness spring, was less than 0.12. The measured response times for the open-loop system were 82s and 109s for heating and cooling respectively. A linear sliding potentiometer was used to measure the spring separation and proportional and derivative feedback control was used to control the current supplied to the heating element thus reducing the response time to less than 30s for small step changes. Further improvement in response time could be achieved by more directly heating and cooling of the paraffin wax in the actuator.
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Johan M. Cronje, P. Stephan Heyns, Nico J. Theron, and Philip W. Loveday "Development of a variable stiffness spring for adaptive vibration isolators", Proc. SPIE 5386, Smart Structures and Materials 2004: Damping and Isolation, (29 July 2004);

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