Magneto-rheological elastomers (MREs) have attracted notable credits in the development of smart isolators and absorbers due to their controllable stiffness and damping properties. For the purpose of mitigating unwanted structural and/or machinery vibrations, the traditional MRE-based isolators have been generally proven effective because the MR effect can increase the stiffness when the magnetic field is strengthened. This study presents a novel MRE isolator that experienced reduced stiffness when the applied current was increased. This innovative work was accomplished by applying a hybrid magnet (electromagnet and permanent magnets) onto a multilayered MRE structure. To characterise this negative changing stiffness concept, a multilayered MRE isolator with a hybrid magnet was first designed, fabricated and then tested to measure its properties. An obvious reduction of the effective stiffness and natural frequency of the proposed MRE isolator occurred when the current was continuously adjusted. This device could also work as a conventional MRE isolator as its effective stiffness and natural frequency also increased when a negative current was applied. Further testing was carried out on a one-degree-of-freedom system to assess how effectively this device could isolate vibration. In this experiment, two cases were considered; in each case, the vibration of the primary system was obviously attenuated under ON-OFF control logic, thus demonstrating the feasibility of this novel design as an alternative adaptive vibration isolator.
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