This study is devoted to explore the effect of nonlinear dynamics of damping washers on the dynamic performance of automatic ball balancer (ABB) system installed in optical disc drives. The ABB is generally used on rotational system to reduce vibration. Researches have been conducted to study the performance of the ABB by investigating the nonlinear dynamics of the system; however, the model adopted often consider the damping washer in a typical ABB suspension system as a linear one, which does not reflect the fact that the practical washers are inevitably exhibit nontrivial nonlinear dynamics at some range of operation, deviating the ABB performance away from the expecteds. In this study, a complete dynamic model of the ABB including a detailed nonlinear model of the damping washers based on experimental data for practical wahers is established. The method of multiple scales is then applied to formulate a scaled model to find all possible steady-state ball positions and analyze stabilities. It is found that with reasonable level of nonlinearity, the balancing balls of the ABB are still reside at the desired positions at steady state, rendering expected vibration reduction; however, jump phenomena also occurs as the spindle operated through natural frequency of the suspension, causing unwanted system vibrations. Numerical simulations and experiments are conducted to verify the theoretical findings. The obtained results are used to predict the level of residual vibration, with which the guidelines on choices of the nonlinear damping washers are distilled to achieve desired performance.

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