How to calculate natural frequency
Natural frequency is an essential concept in engineering, particularly in the fields of mechanical and civil engineering. It is a crucial parameter that defines how a structure or a system oscillates under the influence of an external force. This article will give you an insight into the concept of natural frequency and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to calculate it.
What is Natural Frequency?
Natural frequency can be defined as the rate at which a system vibrates when it is not subjected to any external forces, except for gravity. In other words, it is the inherent vibrational frequency of a structure or system when excited by an initial disturbance. When a system’s excitation frequency matches its natural frequency, it leads to increased amplitude of vibration, otherwise known as resonance. Resonance can sometimes cause catastrophic damage to structures or systems if not considered during the design process.
Calculating Natural Frequency
There are various methods available for calculating natural frequency. The method used depends on the complexity of the structure and the type of force applied. Here, we will discuss three popular methods.
1. Simple Harmonic Oscillator Method
This method applies to simple systems like springs and pendulums where Hooke’s law holds true, and displacements are proportional to forces.
Natural Frequency (f) = (1 / 2π) * √(k / m)
– k is the spring constant or stiffness
– m is the mass attached to the spring
To calculate natural frequency:
a) Determine both ‘k’ (stiffness of spring) and ‘m’ (mass attached).
b) Use the formula provided above.
c) Solve for f.
2. Modal Analysis Method
Modal Analysis is used for complex structures such as bridges and buildings, where natural frequencies depend on multiple factors like material properties, boundary conditions, and geometrical configurations.
a) Create a mathematical model of the structure, incorporating mass and stiffness matrices.
b) Solve for eigenvalues and eigenvectors; these will correlate with the natural frequencies and mode shapes, respectively.
c) Extract the natural frequencies from the solved eigenvalues.
3. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) Method
FEA is a numerical simulation method that uses computer software to analyze complex systems and calculate their natural frequencies. This method is commonly used in various industries.
a) Create a detailed geometry of the structure or system.
b) Set up appropriate boundary conditions and loads.
c) Apply material properties to the model.
d) Run an FEA simulation, ensuring the use of an appropriate solver for eigenvalue extraction.
e) Review the output results for natural frequencies and mode shapes.
The accurate calculation of natural frequency in structures and systems is vital to ensure safety and avoid potential damage due to resonance effects. Knowledge of natural frequencies also helps in fine-tuning designs to optimize performance. By understanding the specific method applicable to your situation, you can quickly and effectively calculate the natural frequency and incorporate it into your engineering plans.