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On construction sites as well as home improvement sites, one of the most common tools used for soil compaction or compaction of other fine particulate matter is the vibrating plate compactor. This tool can also be used on asphalt, so for certain types of paving projects, the vibrating plate compactor is likely to be on site. This machine features a flat, broad plate mounted on the bottom of a motor and frame. The plate makes direct contact with the ground, and when the machine is activated, the plate will vibrate at a high rate of speed to create centrifugal force for compacting materials.
Several designs exist for the vibrating plate compactor, and the best design for a specific user will depend on the type of job being done. Smaller vibrating plate compactor models are walk-behind machines, which means the user will control the machine by grasping a handle and walking behind the unit. Such a machine is suitable for smaller projects that require compaction in a limited amount of space. It is also suitable for detail work on larger projects. To provide higher compaction forces or to cover larger areas, a larger plate compactor can be mounted to an excavator. The excavator is a large piece of heavy machinery with a hydraulic boom arm that can move the exceptionally heavy compactor easily and accurately.
When the machine is used for compacting asphalt, one of the problems a user might run into is sticking or adhesion of the asphalt material to the bottom of the plate. This can lead to damage of the asphalt, thereby slowing or stalling a project. To counteract this problem, some vibrating plate compactor models will feature a sprinkler system that will keep the bottom of the plate wet during use. A wet plate is less likely to stick to the asphalt, thereby preventing damage and delays.
While the weight of the machine is necessary to provide adequate compaction, it can also be considered one of the drawbacks of the vibrating plate compactor. The machine can be difficult to transport, especially when it is turned off, and it will usually require two people to transport the machine to a job site. Once the machine is turned on, the vibrations of the plate will make movement of the machine fairly easy, but when the plate is still, the machine will not help the user move the bulk of it.