Vibration Platform Size & Construction
Many vibration machine suppliers and consumers believe bigger is better. It’s gotta be. Right? I could do a wider variety of exercises in a larger environment.
While this may be true in the manner that a larger platform would allow larger individuals wider foot and hand placement alternatives some consideration of a couple of things should be undertaken. Vertical and Pivotal machines differ so I will consider each on their own.
There are many sizes available currently in the market. Some just large enough to stand on while others are large enough for a horse, no kidding!
The platforms move vertically to a degree that varies but still mainly vertical and require a motor(s) and drive system to do so. This is an area where engineering and purpose come into consideration. If a low acceleration machine is the goal then the vertical displacement of the platform does not need to be very much so many platforms move less than 1-2mm. Others have engineered complex drive systems and dual motors that are capable of delivering and maintaining 4+mm of displacement. They both face the same challenges when it comes to platform size and platform construction.
Steel is commonly used on vertical machines to aid in stabilizing the unit during operation as frequencies are typically higher than that of pivotal machines. Having a heavier steel platform requires the motors and drive system be chosen carefully to ensure durability and capability. If the platform is “underpowered” as can be the case larger users may notice a drop off or slowing down of the machine as these two areas are taxed in maintaining the platforms rate of acceleration. This can result in a lower than anticipated frequency and or displacement. I have personally tried many different vertical machines that suffer from this situation. So although durable as a construction material significant unconsidered mass added to its motor and drive system can negatively affect a machines performance. I’ve actually witnessed sales people advise buyers that this slowing down was actually designed into the machine on purpose. Not so, simply limited engineering & unethical sales practices.
Plastic or fibreglass is not typical for vertical “platform” construction. The shells or head units maybe but strictly considering the actual platform that moves, it is more typical to see variable grades & gauges of steel being utilized.
Now pivotal platforms are a mixture of both. There being a bit of a competitive nature between vertical and pivotal a common sales pitch is to sway a buyer to an all steel platform as it’s more durable but keep in mind what I mentioned above. Steel is heavy and adds a load to the motor and drive system even before someone stands on it. If underpowered, users will again notice the machine may slow down or the vibration pulsations feel weaker. There are ways to mitigate this when designing but most are not employing any counter measures to this area. They just say that was how it was designed. Ok, but is it efficient or accurate? No.
Size on the pivotal side of the market again varies from machines one can only stand to some that give enough room to move around on but are somewhat limited when compared to a vertical. You will not likely see a pivotal machine a horse can stand on for example :).
This is mainly due in part to how these machines move there platforms. The tilting nature allows pivotal machines to use lower frequencies but higher displacement and produce higher rates of platform acceleration or G’s.
When it comes to pivotal technologies I’ve seen plastic platforms outperform steel platforms when it comes to maintaining pulsation performance mainly due to better balance between motor power and drive systems. This can happen when taking mass produced Asian designs and tweaking them for more performance without ensuring the machines design can withstand the increase in operating forces. What you often end up with is a machine that cannot endure long term or sustained use without premature failure. As far as plastic platforms some worry about them breaking. I’ve been selling and repairing machines for over 5 years. They very rarely break and if they did, in every case (3) we’ve seen it was due to overuse or misuse. Exceeding weight capacity or dropping something (weights) on it.
Most machines sold today are mainly designed for light duty use whether the sales people want to admit it or not. There are exceptions but what one will notice right away is the difference in price not by a few hundred or a thousand but by multiples of 1000’s. A quality commercial pivotal machine will set you back at least 8k. Vertical, more like 10k. Light use correlates well to home users as daily use will be limited. Trying to use a machine designed for home use in a commercial environment is a recipe for disaster and most companies have warranty clauses to deal with inappropriate use.
So although a larger platform may allow a little more flexibility in particular exercises the risk is sacrificing adequate platform acceleration and consistency. That may be acceptable based on intended use to some, to others it may not. Being able to ask the right questions and being informed regarding your purchase will help with those on a journey to better understand whole body vibration machines.
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