How the Use of Dampers Reduces Noise Level in Home Environment
Noise Pollution in Our Homes
Noise is an unpleasant sound which disturbs concentration, communication, relaxation and sleep (1). It affects the quality of life. In our fast and noisy modern way of living, it is hard to avoid all urban noises caused by transport, people, machines,…That’s why our homes should be a sanctuary where we find a relaxing and peaceful environment. But is it? Many times, we don’t even realize how much noise stems from our everyday activities such as preparation of our meals with opening and closing of cabinets, drawers and doors in the kitchen, opening various lids like waste bins, and appliances such as ovens, washing machines and refrigerators. We often start our day hearing noises in the bathroom from toilet seats, and sliding shower doors. Noise control within our homes is very achievable.
Several studies highlighted the negative impact of noise to public health including emotional changes, namely agitation, distraction, disappointment, stress, hypertension, the development of cardiovascular diseases (2). According to WHO worldwide 1.3 billion people suffer from this condition and 10% of the global population are currently exposed to noise levels that could lead to hearing impairment (3).
Reduce Noise with Installation of Damping Devices
Soft closing devices built into home equipment can eliminate or significantly reduce various unpleasant sounds occurring at opening, closing or other type of movements when two elements hit each other. Usually the components built into furniture, cabinets, household appliances, waste bins, sliding doors, and toilets are of solid materials, like wood, plastic, and metal which means the collision of them can result in a loud sound. Slowing down or controlling their movement is achieved with dampers/snubbers thereby reducing or eliminating noise.
Basic functionality of the product is not affected, but its value is increased and has improved user experience by adding a soft motion control device.
Adding a soft motion control device increases the value of a product and improves user experience without affecting the basic functionality of the product.
Safety in use and extended lifecycle
A shock absorber also reduces wear and tear on components which leads to extension of longevity. A significant sign of lack of damping is stressed material which tends to fail quicker. Every day’s collision of materials causes unnecessary vibrations in mechanisms and over time can cause incorrect closing. Motion control dampens the movement of two elements and keeps them from hitting each other excessively and removes risk and maintenance associated with worn material.
Installation of a damper can also avoid issues related to safety, for example trapping a finger when closing a cabinet door. Opening and closing, lifting and lowering lids can be uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous if heavy and sharp objects, like a furniture or oven door, descends or closes very fast. This is where a damper comes in. It regulates uncontrolled movements of lids and is helpful in enhancing safety. Even if closing a lid is fast or forced by hand, a damper will always provide controlled movement of an element.
Experience from Cabinet Furniture
Research indicates that today’s consumers of furniture recognize the noise issue and rank quiet performance of furniture cabinets very highly among their purchasing criteria.
In 2012, a series of qualitative research to uncover consumers’ preferences and perception of what is perceived as a quality cabinet door opening/closing and what is not preferable was conducted in UK, Germany and Slovenia. Soft closing was exposed as an important factor by more people (47.8%) than anything else, with ‘Don’t slam’ being the second most cited factor with 31.4%. The overriding reason why these two factors were most important was related to noise and the wish for quiet, which was mentioned by 41.4% of respondents (9). The research, conducted by IMR Institute for Marketing Research in Germany, indicated that the closing noise (66%), close automatically (42%) and stay closed (26%) were most often mentioned as an important aspect regarding the closing of cabinet doors. The closing noise is regarded as important mainly because loud noises are perceived as painful (82%). Cabinet doors that stay closed are appreciated as better looking (46%) and the closing speed indicates the quality of the cabinet doors. (50%) (10). Research in Slovenia, carried out by Studio Marketing JWT in collaboration with Aragon d.o.o. confirmed that the closing speed, the closing softness and the closing point were the most important aspects of the furniture closing. The participants placed great emphasis on the closing speed aspect that presented the closing quality measurement. The closing speed aspect was also related to consumers’ safety. Hence, the closing softness was related to quiet closing and prevention of slamming.
Consumer research and experience from the furniture industry confirm that a damper has obvious advantages for improving functionality of home equipment and enhancing the quality of living in our home environment. It is already ‘a must’ in drawers, lift-up/drop-down mechanisms, swinging doors of cabinet and becoming increasingly present in various lids, household appliances, waste bins, interior door, commercial refrigerators, and airplanes.
Advantages of Hydraulic Linear Dampers How to Effectively Resolve Challenges with Damping Applications
To improve consumer experience with a damping feature built into a piece of home equipment, designers often face the challenge of small space available for dampers, high loads and efficient life-long performance at repeated cycles in temperature fluctuations. A hydraulic damper successfully responds to those challenges with the ability to perform consistently in a wide temperature range without degradation with the possibility to finetune the damping force, stroke and characteristics.
Hydraulic damper, with its long-life expectancy, transmits heavier damping force compared to air and gas dampers. It has also a lower tendency to re-bounce compared to air dampers and uses oil which is less sensitive to compression air in the air damper. It transmits higher forces compared to air dampers. A hydraulic damper effectively responds to challenges of small space available as product designs become more compact and smaller. It works well and consistently at various and fluctuating temperature ranges.
Hydraulic dampers use special silicon oil as the damping fluid medium. Silicon oil is available in various viscosities which affects the damper force. The same damper design with a different oil viscosity will result in different damping forces. The oil’s viscosity changes when a damper is heated or cooled. Forces increase when a damper is cooled and decreases when a damper is heated. A similar principle applies to achieve different moving speeds – when increasing a piston speed through a medium, the response force will also increase and vice versa.
The damping force is generated by moving a piston/valve through a medium (shown in Figure 1).
The piston is the key component of a damper assembly, a small, tight-toleranced hole creates a pressure difference. The pressure difference creates a force-resisting damping motion. Spring in the damper is used to return the piston to its starting position, which can be achieved also by pulling the piston rod with a connector, and in which case the spring is not required. The absorber is an element that compensates for the difference in volumes when the piston rod is travelling in and out of the damper. Dampers can be “tuned” to specific requirements of custom applications.
A Wide Array of Possibilities for Damped Movement in Home Products
Motion control devices provide comfort and make our life easier and more pleasant. Damping can be applied to products in all rooms of our homes.
Thanks to high temperature resistance and effective performance even in case of objects with greater load, hydraulic dampers excellently control motion in house hold appliances, for example in doors of ovens and refrigerators, lids of top loading washing machines, racks of dishwashers. Large and heavy bedroom cabinet doors smoothly glide on sliding door systems and close silently. Bathroom’s waste bin and toilet seat keep a quiet environment in the bathroom when closing. Sound dampening has spread outside the home to other industries like hospitals where a quiet and calm environment is necessary. Dampers control the moving part of treatment chairs, walkers, operating tables, hospital bed elements, exit doors, etc. Dampers can also be found in automotive and aeronautic industries. Armrests and consoles in cars, storage areas in airplanes use dampers to prevent uncontrolled slamming. In commercial refrigerated cases dampers provide a safer and more pleasant customer experience, protect food and prevent damage of display cases by eliminating vibration.
In a world where you hardly find a quiet environment, consumers have started to appreciate having products that don’t make unnecessary noise when in use. Sound is an important feature when deciding which wardrobe or washing machine to buy. Soft-close feature is in high demand which pushes OEM manufacturers and cabinet makers to make it standard rather than an upgrade or luxury feature.
Night Noise Guidelines for Europe. WHO Regional Office for Europe. World Health Organization. 2009. Available at: https://books.google.si/books?id=aHKhgXwJdXYC&pg=PA61&lpg=PA61&dq=disturbs+concentration,+communication,+relaxation+and+sleep&source=bl&ots=hUmJx9R-8h&sig=KBCotdja541z40i2fi3wDvz25TM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-9cGn0Z7UAhXhLcAKHfJpBmwQ6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
Accessed 1 Jun. 2017
Araújo Alves J. , Lígia Torres S., and Remoaldo. P. C. C. The Influence of Low-Frequency Noise Pollution on the Quality of Life and Place in Sustainable Cities: A Case Study from Northern Portugal. Sustainability 2015, (7).
Noise impacts on health. Science for Environment Policy. January 2015, (47). Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/47si.pdf Accessed 1 Jun. 2017.
Basner, M., Babisch, W., Davis, A. et al. (2014). Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health. Te Lancet. 383: 1325-1332
Wenhao L. Design and characterization of a continuous rotary damper with ideal viscous damping properties. National University of Singapore, 2012.
Dixon J.C. The Shock Absorber Handbook. Second edition. John Wiley&Sons, Ltd, 2007.
ACE Controls Inc. Rotary Dampers. Catalog, 2015
Titus. Titus damper, Multipurpose damping technology. Catalogue 2017.
Grand Design survey. Shape the Future. Titus archive, May 2012.
Consumer Preferences regarding the Closing of Furniture Doors Results of Studio Interviews in Germany. IMR Institute for Marketing Research GmbH. Titus archive, September 2013.