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Damping systems for buildings

The VSL R-Damping system is a cost-effective state-of-the-art solution for controlling building vibrations caused by seismic, wind, vehicular traffic and human activities.

  • Diamond Hill station extension
    Construction of 20,000m² of permanent diaphragm walls and barrettes together with associated toe grouting, shear pins and pumping tests.
    Hong Kong - 2014 read more

    Diamond Hill station extension

                     DOWNLOAD PROJECT REFERENCE(S)
  • Wadi Leban Bridge - Focus: Dampers
    Returning 14 years after the installation of VSL Stay cables to upgrade Riyadh’s landmark bridge with VSL Friction dampers.
    Saudi Arabia - 2014 read more

    Wadi Leban Bridge - Focus: Dampers

                     DOWNLOAD PROJECT REFERENCE(S)
  • Century ChongHong
    Mitigating wind-and seismic-induced vibrations and deformations with VSL Dampers.
    Taiwan - 2013 read more

    Century ChongHong

                     DOWNLOAD PROJECT REFERENCE(S)
  • Crystal Palace
    Mitigating wind-and seismic-induced vibrations and deformations with VSL Dampers.
    Taiwan - 2007 read more

    Crystal Palace

                     DOWNLOAD PROJECT REFERENCE(S)

Efficient mitigation of vibration phenomena in buildings

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VSL offers an extensive menu of tailor-made solutions for buildings that require efficient damping. This is backed by the strength of VSL’s experience, with many projects successfully completed around the world.

VSL R-dampers have the unique ability to convert vibration energy instantly into heat energy through shear deformation. The dampers are very effective in controlling all kinds of building vibrations resulting from wind forces, traffic, human activities and even severe earthquakes.

The VSL R-damper system has been granted Architectural Engineering Performance Certification by the General Building Research Corporation (GBRC) of Japan. The characteristics of a VSL R-damper in terms of temperature, vibration frequency and ageing guarantee its stable damping performance for all ranges of vibrations over the entire life of a structure.

VSL's products and services

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  • Assessment of the vibrations on a building
  • Recommendation of appropriate damping solutions to mitigate the effects of the vibrations
  • Design and integration of the VSL R-damper into the structure
  • Supply and installation on site
  • Inspection, maintenance and eventual replacement during the structure’s life – particularly after exceptional events, such as a fire
  • Available as a retrofit solution for existing structures

Associated services

Advantages of VSL's offer

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The VSL R-damper technology can be used to mitigate all types of vibrations.
An example of a VSL R-damper designed for a building application

VSL R-damping systems for buildings are very cost-effective solutions for vibration control:

  • Exceptional energy absorption: The VSL R-damper dissipates movement energy through the deformation of a special material - visco-elastic high damping rubber is inserted inside the key element of the VSL R-damper, the high-damping rubber pads.
  • Low dependency on strain ratio, temperature and frequency
  • High capacity to deform: Thanks to its extraordinary ‘deformability’, the material can withstand very severe dynamic movements without damage, making the system extremely durable
  • Easy to design and detail, as its configuration can be tailored to accommodate any shape
  • Easy installation and replacement if necessary, such as for repair after a fire
  • Long-term durability: Ageing tests have proved a life expectancy greater than 60 years without any deterioration in mechanical characteristics
  • Low maintenance costs, due to the damper’s high durability, and its simplicity, with a minimum number of moving parts
  • Independent of the structure’s gravity loads: The VSL R-damper works only in shear, dissipating energy when the structure is subject to deformation due to vibrations. It does not withstand permanent loadings, but instead works only to mitigate the transient loads. It may be included as part of the structural design leading to optimisation of the structural member size, or it may simply be used to enhance the serviceability of the structure, in terms of its safety and comfort. As a consequence, accidental destruction by fire does not compromise the direct stability and safety of the structure. In addition, the system’s simplicity and ease of access allow the dampers to be replaced easily to reinstate the performance after the fire. Optionally, the damper units can be protected by fire boards providing the desired fire-rating. This is similar to the protection that can be provided for any structural steel member. The flash point of the rubber material is at 200°C and the ignition point is at 360°C.
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Comparison with other damping systems for buildings
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Contributing to sustainable solutions

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The VSL R-damper works only to mitigate the transient loadings. It may be included as part of the structural design in order to optimise of the size of the structural members for these loadings, or it may simply be used to enhance the serviceability of the structure in terms of its safety and comfort.

As a consequence, engineers can design structures with reduced element sizes, which in turn reduce the forces induced by the vibrations. Iterations achieve an optimised design for the structure with the most effective use of the materials required for construction. Further benefits of using the dampers come from reductions in the total weight of the superstructure, base shear and overturning moments. This means that the foundation size can also be reduced. Overall, the use of VSL R-dampers results in the whole structure from the foundations to the top being lighter than with traditional methods. They also provide greater ductility and resilience in controlling the vibrations and they need only limited maintenance thanks to their simplicity and very high durability.

All of these benefits result in cost savings for the owner. This makes the VSL R-damper a very eco-friendly solution, which helps limit the overall carbon footprint of the structure.

A unique material with exceptional properties

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The VSL R-damper is a visco-elastic damper. The basic damper unit consists of a single layer of high-stiffness, high-damping rubber that is bonded to two lateral steel flanges using a pressurised vulcanisation bonding process.

VSL R-dampers exhibit low dependencies on temperature, vibration frequency and aging. They provide stable damping performance over the entire life of the structure for all ranges of vibrations and are effective for amplitudes ranging from mild wind vibrations to large earthquakes.

How it works

The mathematical model of the energy absorption

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The VSL R-damper works in shear only and dissipates energy when deformed.

The energy absorbed is calculated as a function of the hysteresis loop and parameters of the VSL R-damper that are derived from cyclic shear testing.

Hysteresis loop of VSL R-damper

The hysteresis loop of VSL R-damper complies with a modified bi-linear model, which enables engineers to perform accurate analysis and calculations.

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Effective for all vibration modes

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The behaviour of the VSL R-damper can be construed as a combination of spring, friction and viscosity. Therefore, the damper is independent of the vibration mode and of the amplitude. The curves plotted from the results of full-scale testing illustrate this behaviour. Extensive in-situ, full-scale and laboratory tests have been carried out to assess the VSL R-damper's performance.

High capacity to deform

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Thanks to its extraordinary ‘deformability’, the material can withstand very severe dynamic movements without damage, making the system extremely durable.

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Laboratory testing
Full-scale laboratory testing on a structure

Long-term durability

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Ageing tests have proved a life expectancy greater than 60 years without any deterioration in mechanical characteristics.

A key benefit of the technology is that it can be used in a wide range of applications and configurations. It can be installed as a single unit or as an array. A multitude of possible structural arrangements such as shear panels, braces, bi-axial joints and rotational hinges can be used to achieve damping by introducing shear deformation into the unit.

This provides the engineer with tremendous flexibility in determining damper arrangements for all types of structures. It also facilitates the implementation of damping schemes as retrofit solutions as the dampers can be designed to fit into existing structures at the most suitable locations to produce the most effective results.

VSL R-dampers are located where the structure is most subject to deformation. The dampers are subjected to shear under the vibration conditions that lead to deformations of the structure. In turn, they dissipate the energy of the vibrations, mitigating the structure’s movements.

Wall-type and column-type dampers

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The VSL R-dampers are integrated into prefabricated steel panels that are installed directly in the structure at the time of construction.

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Optimisation at the design stage can keep the size and weight of these steel elements to a minimum, allowing the use of concrete wherever possible.

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Applications in buildings

More than 25 projects in Japan and Taiwan since 2006
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Wall-panel-type dampers are installed between floors in reinforced concrete buildings. Damping is activated by shear deformation of the damper units, which is induced by inter-storey floor movement.

Brace-type dampers are typically installed as diagonal braces in steel-frame structures. Damping is activated by shear deformation of the dampers units, induced by axial deformation of the braces.

Other damper forms, such as the K-brace type and the knee type, are also available to meet the design requirements of engineers and architects.

Application in houses

More than 18,000 projects in Japan since 2004
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Houses typically require the installation of two wall-panel units perpendicular to each other on the ground floor. Movements in the damper units are often amplified by larger lever arms in order to cater for the smaller inter-floor displacements that occur in these structures.

Marine applications

Floating Pier Himeji Port, Japan and Akoh Port, Japan
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Wave-induced vibration is a well-known phenomenon and can be very uncomfortable to the public. For this project, VSL R-dampers were installed between the vertical supporting posts and the floating deck.

When subjected to vertical movements due to wave effects, the dampers are activated in shear and in turn reduce the vibrations.

Vibration control for TV antennae

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The dampers have been used successfully to reduce wind-induced noise levels from 50dB to below 40dB for a frequency range of 100Hz to 500Hz.

Retrofitting on bridges

The Second Tomei Expressway, Tokyo, Japan
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The main girder beams of the expressway structure were equipped with VSL R-dampers that react against a fixed point on columns beneath the beams. The dampers are activated by vertical vibrations in the beams and so the dampers act to mitigate these vibrations.

Other applications in civil works

VSL R-dampers have the potential to be installed anywhere vibrations are present and need to be mitigated. Many other configurations could be envisaged in addition to the examples of applications that have already been implemented.

VSL R-dampers have been installed in many structures and have proven their efficiency and cost-effectiveness both at the installation stage and during operation and maintenance.

Bridges – dampers for stay cables and bridge deck girders

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Cable-stayed bridges: the dampers have been used on more than 50 projects in Japan, Canada, Vietnam and Korea since 1994.

VSL R-dampers are used extensively on cable-stayed bridges, where vibration phenomena can be severe thus requiring an effective means of damping.

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