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Fabric assembly helps muffle sound on noisy equipment

Resources | November 1, 2009 | By:

We have the opportunity to bid on a job at a local manufacturing plant, making a sound cover for a noisy piece of equipment. What fabric should we use?

You’re probably going to need a fabric assembly rather than a single fabric. Acoustical covers are often at least three layers. The layer closest to the equipment should be open enough to allow sound to pass through; what the fabric is will depend on the equipment and its function. For example, if it’s machinery that operates at a higher temperature, you’ll need to make sure that you use a material that can withstand that particular temperature. You also want to make sure that the fabric allows sound to pass through, so a coated or laminated material is not an ideal choice for this layer. The second layer absorbs the sound. Often an acoustical fiberglass insulation is used in this layer, although we’ve also seen foam and needlepunched materials used.

Finally, the outer layer (the one facing the rest of the manufacturing facility) should protect the other two layers. This is the material that the facility’s employees may come into contact with, as well as other substances that may be present in the environment. A coated or laminated fabric works well in this layer. Once you’ve chosen the components to your fabric assembly, they are typically joined by quilting. If your shop doesn’t have the capability to quilt, it’s possible that you can subcontract that portion of the job.

Juli Case is IFAI’s information and technical services manager.

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