Until recent years, engineers have been forced to sacrifice vibration control for other factors such as overall performance, cost and efficiency. Magneto rheological-based motion damping systems have evolved to utilize Magnetic Fluids to refine the vibration and control aspects of various products. Whether tackling the infamous spin-cycle of the ‘walking’ washing machine, softening the jolts from road conditions in shock absorbers, or acting as the nervous system within the veins of advanced robotics, the predictability of MR fluids makes them a reliable option for designers.

Most people can identify with the infamous ‘walking’ washing machine. When a drain bucket approaches the peak of spinning speed, washing machines have a tendency to rock violently back and forth, occasionally causing the entire unit to move, or walk. In the past engineers attempted to solve this problem through the use of springs placed under the drain bucket, however, this only lessened the amount of noise and movement. To eliminate the motion associated with the spin cycle, designers have implemented damping cylinders filled with MR fluids. This fluid reacts predictably to a magnetic field that is applied as needed by computer-controlled sensors on the bucket. The result is a more stable and silent product that consumers can purchase confidently.

In the automotive industry, Magnetic Fluids have been employed in the design of shock absorbers for sport and luxury cars. Advanced computers are now able to make thousands of micro-adjustments to the magnetic field each second. The nano-scale metallic particles in MR fluids react to the field by stacking up to stiffen the ride, the effect is reversed as the strength of the field is lessened and the particles fall back beside each other. This scientific advancement has allowed manufacturers to design models that have better ride comfort while increasing the life of the shocks.

The discovery of MR fluids and their predictable pattern of response to specific magnetic fields has spurred NASA scientists to re-explore the idea of advanced robotics. Due to the fact that the active particles within the MR fluid are so small, engineers are considering using this technology within the artificial veins of robots. The use and manipulation of sophisticated magnetic fields is not a new science, experts are using the knowledge already attained to regulate the movement and rigidity of MR fluids inside robotics to replicate the movements of human joints. While there are no actively employed robots in use currently, the very near future may see the emergence of human-like robotics in everyday applications.

Magnetic Fluids have given designers the ability to respond to changing conditions in microseconds. As science advances in the area of magnetic field control, a parallel growth takes place within the uses of MR fluids. Many new applications are expected to arise as a result of this study and consumers can look forward to the superior design in more and more products.

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