Electronic Self-Leveling Isolation System

  • Benchtop Vibration Isolation
  • Active-Air Isolation with PID Control
  • Electronic Control Box, No Mechanical Linkage
  • Space-Saving Design


Benchtop Isolation System

Typical Benchtop
(Wires and Tubing
Not Shown)

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Key Specificationsa
Vertical Resonant Frequency <1.7 Hz
Horizontal Resonant Frequency 7.0 Hz
Vertical Transmissibility at 10 Hz -27 dB (95.66%)
Horizontal Transmissibility at 10 Hz -4.5 dB
Maximum Load Capacity (Set of Four) 462 lb (210 kg)
  • See the Specs tab for a transmissibility plot and additional specifications.


  • Excellent Vibration Isolation: Vertical -27 dB at 10 Hz
  • Contactless Leveling Improves Isolation
  • Control Box with Three Proportional Valves
  • PID Loop for Precise Leveling Control
  • Oil-Free Design, No Leaks
  • Freestanding Benchtop Solution
  • Extremely Low Resonant Frequency: <1.7 Hz
  • Fast Settling Time of 1 - 5 s Typical
  • Can Be Used to Upgrade Rigid Workstations

The PWA090 electronic, self-leveling, vibration isolation system provides a portable, lightweight, low-profile, vibration-control solution for sensitive benchtop equipment and experiments. The system consists of four pneumatic isolators that must be connected to a constant supply of air, either from a compressor or bottled air supply, and an electronic control box with keypad. Other isolator quantities are available upon request.

The control box, which is shown in the image to the right, houses three proportional valves, each controlling a master isolator. The fourth (slave) isolator is controlled by one of the three master legs. Control of these valves is via a PID control loop that provides feedback for the leveling system. This electronic sensing system removes the need for the mechanical linkage between the valve and the breadboard found on traditional systems and results in more efficient isolation. Manual adjustment of the level/height is achieved via a keypad. Once set up, the level is maintained and any further disturbances are corrected automatically. These miniature electronic isolation mounts are only 110 mm (4.33") in diameter and 71 mm (2.8") high, making them ideal for use with breadboards and small optical tables.

The system is designed to be used on a desk, benchtop, or similar surface. The isolators can be used free standing to provide a temporary or moveable isolation solution. Alternatively, they can be bolted to an imperial or metric tapped work surface for more permanent applications. These isolators can also be used to upgrade a PFR series rigid frame to have active isolation as shown in the photo to the right.

These supports contain an isolation system that effectively isolates the worksurface from vertical and horizontal vibrations within the critical 3 - 50 Hz frequency range, which is the range where most common large-amplitude sources of vibrations are found in laboratories (see the Optical Tables Tutorial tab on Sources of Vibration). The vibrations are isolated from the breadboard by an air-driven pneumatic isolation system. This proprietary design eliminates the need to use oil-based damping systems that can leak or degrade over time. The supports are controlled by a control box, which regulates the pressure in the pneumatic system to control the height of the breadboard. If the breadboard is displaced vertically, the control box changes the pressure in each isolator as necessary, so that the breadboard is returned to its original height.

Note: For best performance, these supports should be used with our Nexus® Series Breadboards. Please contact Tech Support for advice on use with our MB series breadboards.

Specification Value
Vertical Resonant Frequencya <1.7 Hz
Horizontal Resonant Frequencya <7.0 Hz
Vertical Transmissibility at Resonancea 14.22 dB
Horizontal Transmissibility at Resonancea 16.27 dB
Vertical Transmissibility at 10 Hza -27 dB
Horizontal Transmissibility at 10 Hza -4.5 dB
Load Capacityb 30 kg (66 lbs) Min
210 kg (462 lbs) Max
Height 73.50 - 76.0 mm (2.9" - 3.0")
Self-Leveling Repeatability ±0.2 mm (0.008")
Adjustable Leveling Repeatability ±0.2 mm to ±1.0 mm
(±0.008" to ±0.04")
Average Settle Time for
±0.2 mm Repeatabilityc,d,e
5.0 s
Average Settle Time for
±0.3 mm Repeatabilityc,d,f
<1.0 s
Settling Time for Large Disturbancesc,d,g <60 s
Legs Height Adjustment Range ±2.5 mm (0.1")
Air Pressure Required 552 kPa (80 psi) Max
138 kPa (20 psi) Min
Finish Black Paint
  • At full load
  • Weights smaller than 66 lbs (30 kg) may be used but settling time, repeatability, and isolation may be affected.
  • Settling time is defined as the time from when the valve is opened to when all LEDs are lit (within error band). The system will turn off 2 seconds after this.
  • Settling time varies with weight, pressure, footprint, center of mass, and error window.
  • The data above is for small 'knock type' disturbances across the entire load range [66 - 462 lbs (30 - 210 kg)], with load evenly distributed.
  • Measured with 36 kg load, 600 mm x 600 mm footprint, and 20 psi.
  • For large disturbances such as those experienced when large weights (20 kg or above) are removed, an overpressure situation occurs, which causes the legs to vent. In this case settling time is <1 minute.

In order to avoid system oscillation or long settle times, the mounting surface must be flat to within 4.0 mm.

A vibration isolation system is subjected to continuous vibrational impulses from the laboratory floor. These vibrations may be caused by large machinery within the building or even by wind- or traffic-induced building resonances (swaying). Transmissibility is a measure of the isolator's efficiency at damping out these vibrations and is defined as the ratio of the amplitude of the transmitted vibration to that of the forcing vibration.

Typical Weight/Pressure Settings

Weight Pressure Min Isolator Separation
<47 kg (103.4 lbs) 20 psi 400 mm
>47 kg (103.4 lbs) to <98 kg (215.6 lbs) 40 psi 400 mm
>98 kg (215.6 lbs) to <152 kg (334.4 lbs) 60 psi 600 mm
>152 kg (334.4 lbs) to <210 kg (462 lbs) 80 psi 900 mm

Posted Comments:
user  (posted 2023-08-31 22:44:08.457)
Hello, I purchased a PWA090 this summer (order #S1755911) and installed it but when I received the box something was rattling inside the control unit. I tried setting it up and legs 1 & 3 work fine but leg 2 seems to be stuck open with no feedback and no air pressure going to the levelers. Can I return the PWA090 electronic control unit for a replacement/RMA?
do'neill  (posted 2023-09-04 04:40:09.0)
Response from Daniel at Thorlabs. I am sorry to hear this, I will reach out to you directly to see if I can help troubleshoot this issue with you.
user  (posted 2022-05-10 16:06:17.643)
Hi, Is it ok to use N2 instead of compressed air? We have direct supply of N2 through the outlets on the wall in our lab. We could get compressed air in bottles if necessary, but it might be convenient if N2 from the outlets can be used.
cwright  (posted 2022-05-11 04:58:09.0)
Response from Charles at Thorlabs: Thank you for your query. Yes you could use Nitrogen if you prefer as long as you meet the pressure requirements. We are aware that some customers have previously opted to do this.
user  (posted 2022-01-07 11:04:26.457)
Hello, Is there a stud or threaded option for installing a custom frame to the isolators. I do not see any threaded information for the 12mm diameter blind hole. Is there an option for having this hole threaded? Or is a threaded stud an option rather than the blind hole?
cwright  (posted 2022-01-10 03:22:58.0)
Response from Charles at Thorlabs: Thank you for your query. Unfortunately this is not currently an option for these isolators and they are only provided with this blind hole.
Kevin Stephens  (posted 2021-07-26 14:52:52.71)
Hello, I wanted to understand if it is possible to secure any length of the 1.5" posts to the top of this damper? I would like to make a multi-level breadboard table with dampers and posts supporting the top table.
cwright  (posted 2021-07-28 04:54:24.0)
Response from Charles at Thorlabs: Thank you for your query. Unfortunately it is not possible to fit one of these posts to the PWA090 as there is no way to mate the components. The only hole in the surface is a 12 mm blind hole with no thread. We also would not recommend putting posts on these as any load would then likely be outside of the stability pyramid indicated in the manual.
cwright  (posted 2021-07-28 04:54:24.0)
Response from Charles at Thorlabs: Thank you for your query. Unfortunately it is not possible to fit one of these posts to the PWA090 as there is no way to mate the components. The only hole in the surface is a 12 mm blind hole with no thread. We also would not recommend putting posts on these as any load would then likely be outside of the stability pyramid indicated in the manual.
Phuc Nguyen  (posted 2020-07-10 00:39:07.32)
Hi, I had encounter the display for O is "999" with dynamic load on this system but It's Ok when reset system or ON/OFF levelling Active. Furthermore Can I use the T-piece supplied, connect the slave leg to one of the master legs at diagonal position? Thank you.
cwright  (posted 2020-07-10 04:30:19.0)
Response from Charles at Thorlabs: Hello and thank you for contacting us about your application. "O" reaching a value of 999 would suggest that the valve has fully opened. There are a few potential causes for this, particularly if you have a changing load, so a member of our technical support team will reach out to you directly about this.
Eugene Lee  (posted 2019-09-20 12:23:20.347)
Hi, I had encounter the display for O is "999" then i think that is some internal error happening. Please help to advice, my hands are tight now. Thanks
cwright  (posted 2019-09-20 12:09:14.0)
Hello Eugene, thank you for contacting us about this. I will contact you directly with follow-up questions to help identify the source of this problem.
kdh5389  (posted 2019-01-04 03:03:49.15)
Hello. I have the Electronic Self-Leveling Isolation System. I did using the system. When I do testing, have a question. What is the Settile point of control box? And What is mean the "Vertical Transmissibility at 10 Hz -27 dB (95.66%) Horizontal Transmissibility at 10 Hz -4.5 dB " ? Does this mean 95.66% vibration is transmitted or Does this mean that 95.66% vibration is compensated? And -4.5dB is what percent? Sorry,but i want know. Thank you. regard.
AManickavasagam  (posted 2019-01-08 05:30:03.0)
Response from Arunthathi @ Thorlabs: Thanks for your query. The settle position should be be close to zero as this is the mid travel position. The 95.66% is the suppression (percent lost) and the -4.5 db equates to 40.43%
maheshswami  (posted 2017-11-02 02:54:38.91)
Weather pump required for Air Pressure is included with the item. It wold be useful during purchase if a packing list is also available.
bwood  (posted 2018-01-17 04:18:30.0)
Response from Ben at Thorlabs: Thank you for your feedback. The PWA090 system does not include a pressurised air supply; you will need to use a compressor (e.g. PTA512), or a similar external air supply. I will pass on you comments about including a packing list in the manual.
user  (posted 2013-02-15 04:54:11.397)
How about add computer control port of driver?
jlow  (posted 2013-02-18 12:00:00.0)
Response from Jeremy at Thorlabs: A USB port was decided against because the PWA090 is meant to be a set-and-forget controller. Once it has been set up, you don’t really need to touch it. Therefore, a computer port would have added a fair amount of cost and complexity to the product.

Electronic, Self-Leveling Benchtop Isolation System

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+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
PWA090 Support Documentation
PWA090Electronic, Self-Levelling Benchtop Isolation System, Four Isolators