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Vibrational analysis and stiffness

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Hi. I am an intern working in Pontiac MI for general motors. My supervisor asked me to find out about the stiffness of the piece connecting the 2 sides of a bushing engine mount. In other words, the question is whether or not the stiffness of the metal would change if it was preloaded ahead of time. For all practical purposes he told me to model the piece as a simple cylinder in one case with a horizontal force(preload) and without a horizontal distributed force. Does anyone know if the stiffness would change from case to case. I was under the impression that stiffness was a material property, and not subject to change based on loading condition. His colleagues seem to think that it is based on the equation natural freq = sq root of (stiffness / mass). They claim that as the load increases the natural frequency will change, therefore changing the stiffness.