What does Dampening Mean?

Definition of Dampening in Construction
The construction procedure that structurally dampens the effects of swaying on large, tall structures or bridges.

Dampening is especially important when designing for earthquake forces.

Dampening is accomplished by various means, inclusive of large pendulum type components, large spring dampeners, large masses of steel, concrete or synthetic products that interact in the opposite direction of the earthquake loading and forces on the structure. When an exterior force causes a structure to move, there is the initial affect of the force pushing or lifting or compressing. This initial force and affect will cause movement within this structure, and the movement will cause the structure to move beyond its position of rest or equilibrium. Once the structure moves beyond its designed resting position, if it has not yielded, failed, then the structure will move back to its position of rest. If the structure does not return to exactly its original position, then the structure has yielded under the force and there has been a compromise within the structure. The compromise has not resulted in a total failure of the structure but has caused a permanent yield to have taken place and in most cases, damage.

Dampening is a technique of limiting the initial movement, thereby reducing the possibility of a failure or a permanent yield within the structure. The use of dampening also shortens the period of oscillations that are required to allow the structure to reach its equilibrium or resting position. By shortening the period of swaying or oscillations, less structural failures and damage is likely to take place.