Saint-Gobain has started its anechoic chamber in Bristol, UK, designed to absorb reflections of sound to test noise and vibration in applications such as seats, car doors and steering systems.

As engine noises are reduced, so Buzz, Squeak and Rattle (BSR) sounds from within the cabin; from seats, doors, steering systems, attract greater attention. Using the anechoic chamber, Saint-Gobain can evaluate entire assembly down to component level.

Small parts such as composite bearings and tolerance rings can have a major impact on noise reduction in the final system assembly, but such impact cannot be tested in isolation.

As small components provide a functional benefit at the assembly and system level, the anechoic chamber enables Saint-Gobain to test entire systems and do so at a supplier or automotive manufacturer standard.

Before establishing this new anechoic facility, Saint-Gobain was testing for six years in off-site facilities at local universities and in an external test facility in Germany.

In setting up the Bristol anechoic chamber, it has received support from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR Consulting) based at the University of Southampton in the UK, which has been involved in several major developments in the fields of sound and vibration, as well as from Brüel & Kjær, a specialist in sound and vibration measurement and analysis systems.

“Since 2006 we’ve worked very closely with the R&D team at Saint-Gobain to develop their noise and vibration testing facilities,” said Brüel & Kjæ noise and vibration applications specialist, Mark Dowie.

“By understanding Saint-Gobain’s technical aspirations we have been able to ensure their test facilities maximise the potential for new applications. They now have a comprehensive selection of Noise and Vibration testing capabilities and the knowledge to solve a broad range of challenges.”

For his part, senior NVH specialist at Saint-Gobain, Simon Hughes added: “We have been an active member of the Squeak and Rattle Forum – which brings together experts, developers and other stakeholders from research and industry to work together to improve squeak and rattle and the quality of noise – for four years, so we recognise noise has become one of the important factors for perceived quality of automobiles and other transportation.

“The need to reduce noises in certain systems is something our customers feel very strongly about. For some it emphasises the parts of the car they want to be heard, such as the engine, and for others it simply creates a more serene driving environment.

“The anechoic chamber enables us to respond quickly to our customers’ needs. Using our combined capabilities, we can work with them to apply a scientific process to the co-development of assemblies and systems, helping to deliver noise and vibration performance at both component and system levels.”