Technical Papers

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Seismic Base Isolation can use elastomeric pads, sliding plates or inverted pendulums. Each method can include an energy dissipation means, but only as some kind of hysteretic damping. Hysteretic damping has limitations in terms of energy absorption and may tend to excite higher modes in some cases. It’s possible to avoid these problems with viscous dampers. Viscous damping adds energy dissipation through loads that are 90o out of phase with bending and shear loads so even with damping levels as high as 40% of critical adverse side effects tend to be minimal. This paper presents basic theory of viscous damping and also describes a sample project. Viscous dampers being built for the new San Bernardino Medical Center reduce both deflections and loads by 50% compared with high damping elastomer base isolation bearings by themselves.

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