Description of the Request:
A leading manufacturer of natural gas compression and delivery (pumping) systems knew they needed to redesign the insulation and enclosure of their systems. They approached Polymer Technologies with a three-fold request:
- Improve the acoustical performance : Similar in look to regular gas station pumps, these compression/ pumping systems require substantially larger mechanical parts (resulting in the entire system being at least 8ft x 8ft x 8ft), which create significantly more noise.
- Reduce the cost of materials and installation: They were using mineral wool as a noise insulator. Sheets of mineral wool needed to be cut and sized manually. The hands-on installation incurred high labor and required too much manufacturing floor space. In addition, hundreds of stud welds had to be spot-welded onto the pre-painted enclosure at great cost and time loss.
- Increase employee safety during installation: The hands-on installation also put the installers at risk of skin irritation and inhalation of mineral wool particles.
Polymer had to determine which parts of the mineral wool were working to perform which specific acoustical functions. Figuring out if the mineral wool was reducing noise because of its mass or because of its other inherent properties was crucial in honing in on an appropriate solution. Polymer worked closely with the client’s engineering team in a series of field tests to zero in on the ideal composite.
After the completion of the field tests, Polymer’s engineering team noted that the mineral wool was acting primarily as a sound barrier/vibration damper, and less as a sound absorber. This information was critical in helping Polymer focus on the characteristics of their chosen material, making sure that the end composite was an effective sound barrier/ vibration damper as well as providing necessary sound absorption. . In the end, Polymer determined that a custom Melamine Foam/Sound Barrier composite would be the ideal solution for the client’s problems.
Polymer’s production team was able to design a streamlined production process whereby they would provide the composite in kit form, fully ready for installation. By producing, shaping, and cutting the materials for the customer, there would be a dramatic reduction in the client’s cost of labor and a relief of manufacturing floor space for core operations. This service also eliminated the hazardous conditions their installers had been exposed to with the mineral wool.
A Sound Solution: Finding the Right Materials for the Job:
Polymer Technologies exceeded the capabilities and characteristics of mineral wool.
- POLYDAMP® Melamine Foam has a high resistance to flammability and smoke, a characteristic extremely important for this application.
- In this case, POLYDAMP® Hydrophobic Melamine Foam was chosen to provide a very high resistance to water absorption—as these are all out-door installations - something the mineral wool lacked.
- Polymer used a micro-perforated Reinforced Aluminum Foil facing on the surface of the foam in order to protect it from outside contaminants, enhance durability, and add longevity to its performance.
- The micro-perforation also gives the foam better acoustical absorption characteristics; especially in the frequency range of importance in these systems.
With Polymer’s engineering team having developed an excellent material composite, the next step was to delve further into additional options to reduce costs.
- Adding a pressure sensitive adhesive on the backside of the composite reduced the number of stud welds needed to secure the insulation—the mineral wool required hundreds of stud welds whereas the melamine foam needed 90% fewer stud welds.
- Fewer stud welds dramatically reduced installation time and in turn, labor costs.
Final Results: Going Above and Beyond:
Polymer’s engineers have always focused on creating a fully comprehensive and effective sound solution for their customers, which is why they didn’t cease their efforts once they settled upon a Hydrophobic Melamine Foam/ Sound Barrier composite with a Micro-Perforated Aluminum Foil Facing.
In these compression/ delivery systems, there is a steel rail framework that the motor and pump are attached to and a large metal enclosure then sits on the frame rails to enclose the package. When the metal enclosure is hard mounted to the same structure as the vibrating components, energy transfers from the machinery to the large panels of the enclosure, resulting in unwanted vibrations and excess resonant sound. By adding strips of gasket foam to partially isolate the surrounding enclosure from the base frame rail, some of the resonant energy is eliminated, better allowing the acoustical composite to perform as needed.
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