Damping is the phenomenon by which mechanical energy is dissipated (usually by conversion into

internal thermal energy) in dynamic systems. Knowledge of the level of damping in a dynamic system is

important in the utilization, analysis, and testing of the system. For example, a device with natural

frequencies within the seismic range (that is, less than 33 Hz) and which has relatively low damping,

could produce damaging motions under resonance conditions when subjected to a seismic disturbance.

This effect could be further magnified by low-frequency support structures and panels with low damping.

This example shows that knowledge of damping in constituent devices, components, and support

structures is important in the design and operation of complex mechanical systems. The nature and the

level of component damping should be known in order to develop a dynamic model of the system and its

peripherals. Knowledge of damping in a system is also important in imposing dynamic environmental

limitations on the system (that is, the maximum dynamic excitation the system can withstand) under

in-service conditions. Furthermore, knowledge of a system’s damping can be useful in order to make

design modifications in a system that has failed the acceptance test.