Stiffness and Damping in Mechanical Design, Authored by Eugene I. Rivin, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1999. REVIEWED BY B. BALACHANDRAN

Stiffness, damping, and inertia parameters play an important role in the design of many structural and mechanical systems. These parameters have been addressed to varying extents in textbooks 1 and specialized treatments 2,3,4. The book by Rivin, which follows in the wake of these books, has been written to address the choice of both stiffness and damping parameters in the design of mechanical systems. According to the author, an attempt was made in the book to treat the role of the stiffness parameter in a comprehensive manner and address the role of the damping parameter in a manner complementary to treatments available in the literature. In addition, an aim of the book is also to include many results from the Russian literature.

The material of the book is organized into eight chapters, three appendices, and a section containing reprints of articles from the published literature. The first chapter serves well to motivate the importance of stiffness and damping parameters in mechanical design. However, the treatment of the relevant analytical basis in this chapter, Appendix 1, and the other chapters is weak. An understanding of the influence of stiffness and damping parameters on the dynamic behavior of a mechanical system is built up primarily on the basis of a single degree-of-freedom system. Although the author refers to the book by Tobias 5 extensively, the so-called chatter-resistance criterion discussed in the book is too simplistic to be used for many turning and milling operations. On the positive side, Table 1.1 and other tables of the book do contain useful information.

In Chapter 2, a nice discussion of the design of components for stiffness enhancement is provided. Nonlinear stiffness characteristics and the use of hardening and softening springs in various designs are treated in Chapter 3. A substantial portion of this chapter is devoted to the discussion of the influence of pre-loading on stiffness. Case studies and examples provided throughout the book are valuable for practical applications. In terms of what is missing from this chapter, stability issues could have been addressed in light of the considered nonlinear stiffness characteristics. Other aspects that could have been addressed in detail are active control of stiffness and active control of damping, which are increasingly receiving attention in many applications 6. In Chapter 4, which is one of the larger chapters in the book, an extensive treatment of contact stiffness and contact damping is provided. Sections such as Section 4.4 that contain many results from the Russian literature distinguish this book by Rivin from other books in the literature. Dynamic stiffness and damping in the context of flat joints are also discussed in this chapter. However, as in other parts of the book, inertia effects are typically ignored even for dynamic cases giving one the impression that static considerations alone are sufficient for design purposes. A minor carp is the presence of errors such as that in Eq. (4.4) throughout the book. However, these errors can be expected in a first printing. Stiffness issues related to supporting systems and foundations are considered in Chapter 5 and these issues are elaborated with the help of many case studies and examples.

Chapter 6, which is devoted to power transmission systems and drives, is another large chapter in this book. The discussion of stiffness and damping issues in gear trains, bearings, ball screws, hydraulic systems, and robots distinguishes this book from other books in the literature. Design techniques for passive enhancement of the stiffness parameter as well as the damping parameter are addressed in Chapter 7. As mentioned earlier, this book could have benefited through inclusion of techniques for active enhancement of stiffness and damping parameters. In Chapter 8, the author has presented material to aid in “proper” adjustment of the stiffness parameter in certain design components. Although frequency-response functions are addressed in this chapter and material presented later in this book, modal analysis tools could have been addressed in more detail because they are being increasingly used for stiffness and damping parameters selection in applications such as, for example, slider-air bearings in hard-disk drives. The reprinted articles provided at the end of the book add value to it.

Although at the outset of the book, the author discusses the role of computer-aided design and finite-element analyses packages, their use is not elaborated further in this book. The material of the book appears to have an orientation towards “nomogram driven” designs. Overall, despite the criticisms stated above, the book by Rivin can serve as an extremely valuable reference for selection of stiffness and damping parameters in machine systems. The book is rich with many case studies, experimental results, and experimental techniques, many of which are drawn from the author’s extensive work. In addition, the inclusion of many results from the Russian literature makes the book an excellent and unique reference source.

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-3035.

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