What’s the best sound absorbing material for heavy equipment? Whether you need sound absorbers for engine bays or equipment cabs, you have different needs than the designers of home theater systems. The acoustic foam panels you can buy on-line or from Big Box stores are fine for residential or commercial applications, but heavy equipment manufacturers need industrial-quality solutions.

To choose the best sound absorbing material, it helps to know some basics. For example, how does sound absorption work? What are some types of sound absorbing materials? Most importantly, what do you need to understand about your specific noise control application? Because you need a custom solution, it also helps to find out how the best sound absorbing material is made and installed.

How Does Sound Absorption Work?

Sound absorbers are used at the source of a sound (such as a diesel engine) and at its receiver (such as an equipment cab). They’re made of open cell acoustic foams that can include specialized facings. The open cells in acoustic foams permit the passage of sound energy. This energy is converted into small amounts of low-grade heat and dissipated easily.

The facings for sound absorbing foams can tune-out specific frequencies, such as the low-frequency rumble of the diesel engines used in farm or forestry equipment. The sound absorber’s facing material can also provide a durable, cleanable finish. That’s important for noise control applications where, unlike a home theater system, there’s exposure to industrial fluids and environmental contaminants.

What Are Some Types of Sound Absorbing Materials?

Most sound absorbing foams are made of polyester, polyurethane, urethane, or melamine. To meet fire safety requirements, polyimide foams may be used instead. Common facing materials for acoustic foams include vinyl and aluminum foil. Vinyl can absorb low frequencies and supports ease-of-cleaning. Aluminum foil reflects radiant heat and provides thermal insulation – protection against high heat.

With heavy equipment, vinyl-faced sound absorbers are a good choice for the cabs or cabins where operators sit. Foil-faced sound absorbers are used in engine bays where heat transfer is a concern. Heavy equipment manufacturers who want the best sound absorbing material can also choose:

  • Unfaced polyester or polyurethane foams that provide maximum sound absorption.
  • Aluminized polyester-faced foams for hostile environments that require cleaning.
  • Urethane faced acoustic foams that reduce the ingress of dirt, particles and debris.
  • Convoluted sound absorbing foams with increased surface area for enhanced sound absorption.

Before choosing one of these options, make sure that you understand all of your application requirements. Otherwise, you could choose an acoustic foam that meets only some of your needs.  

What’s the Best Sound Absorbing Material for Your Application?

Every industrial noise control application is different, but this list of questions is a good place to start:

  • What is the maximum insulation thickness that your application can support?
  • Are you trying to insulate an area where there’s air flow resistance, or can air flow in and out?
  • Do you need facing materials that can absorb a specific frequency or frequencies?
  • Do you need facing materials for protection? If so, what are you protecting against?
  • If the sound absorber must provide flame resistance, what is the flame rating you need to meet?
  • Will the acoustic insulation remain stationary, or be subjected to opening, closing, and bending?
  • Will you add sound absorbing materials to structural components where there’s vibration?

How are Sound Absorbers Made and Installed?

Acoustic foam comes in sheets or rolls in different lengths, widths, and thicknesses. Elasto Proxy, a custom fabricator of acoustic insulation, uses water jet equipment to cut sound absorbing foams to size without knives or dies – tooling that adds costs to projects. First, however, we can laminate different sound absorbing materials together to create an insulation “sandwich” with particular properties.

For example, Elasto Proxy can laminate a vinyl facing to a polyurethane foam. Then, on the other side, we can apply a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) with a removable liner to support ease-of-installation. This composite material puts the facing on top, the liner on the bottom, and the foam in the middle. Importantly, this sound absorber stops low-frequency sounds and is easy to install and clean.

Elasto Proxy also adds value to sound absorbers through parts marking, kitting, and custom packaging. With our inkjet printing and UV drying equipment, we can mark your parts so that they’re easy to identify. We can also provide you with kits that are specially-packaged to contain all of the acoustic insulation that you need for a build. Instead of waiting for multiple shipments or searching shelves for parts, you can just open a box and get to work.   

Get the Best Sound Absorbing Material

Do you want the best absorbing material for heavy equipment? Don’t settle for an off-the-shelf product when a custom-fabricated solution can deliver the value that you really need. Contact Elasto Proxy for help with sound absorber selection or ask for the Elasto Bag. This convenient cinch bag contains samples of acoustic insulation that you can see your yourself and hold in your hand.

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