This paper studies the vibration damping characteristics of a magnetorheological (MR) damper. A single-degree-of-freedom vibration isolation system with pedestal motion containing MR dampers has been experimentally investigated. Results show that the transmissibility at the resonance frequency does not constantly decrease as expected. It gradually decreases at the beginning, then increase unexpectedly as the input current increases. In addition, the resonant frequency of the system increases continuously. In order to explore the mechanism behind the experimental phenomenon, a centralized parameterized model of the MR damper is established. Hardening coefficient, a parameter that characterizes the dynamic characteristics of the MR damper is introduced, and the influence of the structural parameters and dynamic parameters of the MR damper on the hardening coefficient is analyzed. Simultaneously, a dynamic model of the MR damper is derived based on the Bingham model, and the damping characteristics of the MR damper are predicted and compared with the experimental results. Further, based on a simplified and equivalent dynamic model of the system, the relationship between transmissibility of the system and load mass, stiffness, and damping reveals the physical laws behind the experimental phenomenon. Finally, theoretical results are derived and compared with the experimental results, which demonstrates the rationality of the theoretical analysis.

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