Shock absorbers are self-explanatory – they absorb shocks. Also called a damper in some circumstances, this is a device designed that converts the kinetic energy of shock impulses (for example, bumps in the road) into a different form of energy (often heat) which it then dissipates, usually into the atmosphere. The purpose of such energy-absorbing devices in industry is usually to bring a moving load to a halt with the minimum load rebound. They also ensure a minimum shock, both to the load itself and to any surrounding equipment.
Shock absorber design does vary, in the most basic design they ,consist of a cylinder body, piston with a method for returning the piston to the start position usually a spring or other similar device. Different types of cushioning are available for stopping the piston hitting the end position with fixed cushioning, adjustable and self-adjusting all being readily available. Fixed shock absorbers are designed for set loads and speeds and cannot be adjusted, whereas adjustable and self-adjusting shock absorbers are ideal for varying loads and applications. For correct shock absorber selection, the type of load should first be determined; whether it is pure inertial, free-falling or a propelling load; such as something driven by a pneumatic cylinder. After the type of load has been established the weight and velocity of the load should then be determined and compared against the manufacturers data to ensure correct selection.