Why some manufacturers give their products the silent treatment

Machines make noise all by themselves, but what motivates manufacturers to make them quiet? It’s a good question, because lots of noisy products flood the market right now. You know it’s true: Sure, some noisy machines are limited to specific industries, but we all have noisy things in our homes. We interact with them on a regular basis, from our dryers to our blenders, from our lawn mowers to our leaf blowers.

But not all the news is bad: We have come a long way in the past 50 years. Some manufacturers offer products that have been given the silent treatment. 

What makes them do it? It depends. Sometimes the complaints of an angry citizenry motivate governments to solve the problem: When jet aircraft began being used commercially, for example, loud noise affected much greater portions of the population. So governments encouraged research into quieter methods of flying. At other times, rules made to protect the hearing of workers have prompted manufacturers to make quieter equipment. Finally, let’s not forget the profit motive: Appliance manufacturers have recognized the desire for a quiet and peaceful home and have started marketing products that whisper, rather than scream, at homeowners.

By looking at historical data, Edgar Olvera, Robert Bruce, Adam Young, Arno Bommer, and Isaac Harwell provide context surrounding the introduction of quiet products to the market in a new paper, presented at Noise-Con 2016 and published in Sound & Vibration. "What Causes Quiet Products to Come to Market?" considers a host of noisy machines made quiet—or, at least, quieter—and explores what motivated manufacturers to change their noisy ways. Read the article online to hear about manufacturing efforts to quiet aircraft, vehicles, and construction equipment, as well as compressors and valves—and even dishwashers. Post a comment below to tell us what you think or to ask one of our engineers a question.

CSTI acousticsComment