Should We Be Worried About the Safety of Wireless Electronic Accessories?

With the newest phone releases still getting mixed reviews in terms of functionality, one aspect that’s important to consider is safety. The biggest change arguably is the abandonment of the standard earbuds in favor of wireless ones – getting rid of the headphone jack altogether in the new model.

For most people, the biggest drawback to this change is the increased possibility of losing your earbuds. But for those of us who work in the electromagnetic shielding field, there’s the question of possible health risks associated with these wireless accessories.

With most mobile devices, we have the option of using a wired headset with headphones and microphone that allow us to communicate without holding the actual device so close to our heads. Though the radiation emitted from these devices is minimal, there’s little way of knowing the long-term effects of low-level exposure implanted so close to the brain. Now that the wired headset are phasing out, users will have to choose between holding the phone to their ear, or using Bluetooth ear buds – but are they any safer?

According to a few sources, the risks associated with wireless earbud use are the same as those with any other listening device – potential hearing loss if the volume is too loud, and distractions while walking or driving. The researchers so far contend that there is no increased risk of cancer from this type of radiation exposure. In fact, they argue that using the wireless Bluetooth option actually reduces the amount of electromagnetic radiation exposure as opposed to having the phone directly against your ear.

However, this is far from an open and shut case. The Environmental Health Trust has published a number of pieces examining the effects of electromagnetic fields on mammals. Researchers found that in addition to disrupting sleep patterns, wireless radiation in combination with exposure to other carcinogens can increase the risk of cancer development. So while on their own, electromagnetic fields may not cause cancer, they may contribute to more cases in individuals who are exposed to other factors – and with so many potential carcinogens in the air and even in our food already, adding another susceptibility can be a major problem.

With conflicting reports about the safety of these types of products, it’s important to consider appropriate shielding measures in electronic devices. Our Ultra-Vanshield products are used by manufacturers to limit the electromagnetic radiation emitted from common electronic devices such as computers and telecommunications equipment. Though we can’t say that this solves the possible problems associated with cellphones and Bluetooth devices, we will continue to do our part to improve the safety of consumer technology. In the meantime, we’ll continue to research this topic and work to solve noted problems.

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 | Posted in: Ultra Vanshield Sponge Product Line

What’s New with NASA’s Orion Project?

By now, most people are aware that efforts are underway to bring humans out of low Earth orbit, past the Moon, and on to Mars. But few people are aware of the extensive research and testing that goes on behind the scenes to ensure the safety of astronauts on those future missions. In order to make the trip a reality, new technologies must be designed to cope with the harsh environment of outer space.

One of the most important components of a space mission is the spacecraft itself – and a trip to Mars requires a very special craft. As such, NASA has been working with Lockheed Martin and other vendors to develop this spacecraft, called Orion.

The Orion crew capsule resembles early crew modules from NASA’s history, taking on a conical shape. It will be mounted on a rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS), which will propel it into space.

One of the biggest hurdles of space flight is getting through Earth’s atmosphere and being exposed to high heat and radiation during the journey. For this reason, it’s critical to conduct extensive research and testing to determine the right material combinations for this type of mission.

Not only is it important for the craft itself and its occupants to be adequately protected, but the electronic systems must also be taken into consideration. It’s therefore necessary to select electromagnetic (EM) shielding to guard against disruptive electromagnetic frequencies. And, similarly, it’s important to consider the possibility of electrostatic discharge (ESD) impacting the circuitry, and to find reliable ESD protection.

As a supplier of EM and ESD shielding materials, Vanguard Products is proud to have a role in ensuring a safe mission for the Orion team. We look forward to watching the project’s progress and eventually sending humans on long-distance flights through space, knowing that we had a hand in that success.

Posted on: August 15th, 2016 | Posted in: aerospace grade o-rings, EMI Shielding Gaskets

The Importance of Non-Leaching Materials in Water Treatment Applications

Now that we’ve reached the start of summer, one thing that’s on most people’s minds is water. Whether you’re heading to the local pool or reaching for a cool beverage, this time of year, you can never seem to have enough water. But how can municipalities ensure the safety of their water?

Any water that’s accessed through a tap has already undergone extensive processing. Wastewater and drinking water treatment plants go through billions of gallons of water every day. But even as bacteria and contaminants are filtered out, there’s still a concern of other pollutants leaching into the water from the system itself. To combat this issue, it’s important for treatment systems to use non-leaching materials, including silicone tubing and seals.  Even after the water reaches your home, there are several places where harmful contamination can be picked up from places in your homes. PVC, a commonly used material for piping and flexible tubing, has been known to leach concerning chemicals, and several countries in Europe are moving to ban its use wherever possible. Unlike metal pipes that can corrode or leach heavy metals into the water, silicone offers a safe alternative even when exposed to high temperatures.

And after processing, silicone materials are often used in other applications. In laboratories, for example, there is always a need for high-purity water for medical and scientific purposes. Any contamination at all could throw off results, so employing a system that won’t introduce foreign particles is essential. And of course, standard drinking water must also be kept clean to keep residents healthy. Recent headlines have shown the dangers of old water infrastructure leading to lead contamination throughout the country – which is why it is so important to take stock of all of the materials throughout the water supply chain.

Even in household filtration systems – including water and ice dispensers in refrigerators – any time water is being brought from one location to another, consider the materials being used during transport. Silicone is a safe material that can fill many roles in the water processing sector.

Posted on: June 9th, 2016 | Posted in: food grade o-rings, Silicone Tubing

Eliminating Harmful BPA from the Food & Beverage Industry

As food and beverage processing continues to evolve, there’s a focus on flexible, durable products that can withstand pressure and protect the products inside. For this reason, plastics are a common material for fluid conveyance and other parts used in processing.

Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is a plasticizer used in products involved in the food processing sector . It has been in use for almost 50 years and was a top choice for use in plastics due to its ability to be easily molded, create shatterproof products, and allow those products to be lightweight. Scientists have since found that BPA can leach into foods and drinks, leading to hormonal disruptions. These disruptions result in higher rates of neurological, immunity, and reproductive problems. Exposure to BPA has also been linked to childhood asthma, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Silicone has recently become popular on the market due its natural elastic properties without the need for plasticizers. Silicone doesn’t use BPA, or other plasticizers like BPS, or BPF, making it an ideal material for food and beverage processing applications. Throughout food manufacturing plants, silicone can replace plastics in conveying systems, molded parts, and seals. Vanguard Products Corporation produces silicones that are perfect alternatives in these roles, and many are certified to NSF-51 for safety when they come in contact with food and drink products. Silicone is a much safer alternative for health-conscious food manufacturers and consumers. We strongly recommend using this material rather than plastic-based products for food and beverage production and handling.

To speak with an expert and discuss the benefits of silicone in food handling, call Vanguard at 203-744-7265.

Posted on: April 27th, 2016 | Posted in: food grade o-rings

The Rise of Home Brewing and the Need for Safety in Beer Production

As more people are turned on to natural foods and beverages and locally sourced products, we’re seeing a general rise in the number of home beer brewers. With craft beers becoming more popular and new flavor infusions coming out daily, it’s no wonder that people are inspired to create their own one-of-a-kind brews. In fact, even as the general market for beer is declining, we’re seeing a rise in demand for craft beers.

But before you get started, there’s a bit of research and investment that must be done. In addition to the necessary ingredients, the infrastructure for the entire process must also be carefully thought out and put together beforehand. And when choosing materials for any type of food or drink production, it’s vitally important to look for products that are designed for that particular use.

Silicone Tubing for Food and Bev

Translucent Silicone Tubing Next to Red Silicone Tube

Increasingly, we’re seeing demand for translucent tubing products, which allow brewers to keep an eye on fluid flow. And because our tubing products are manufactured domestically, customers know that they are not getting a product that will leach dangerous chemicals into the beer.

As an added measure of defense, we offer tubing products that are NSF-51 certified, which pertains to the safety of the product at elevated temperatures in contact with food and beverages. So even at high temperatures, brewers can rest assured that no dangerous toxins will contaminate the beverage. Since boiling is an important step in the brewing process, it is very important that home brewers are using NSF-51 products that are resistant to heat.

To learn more about food grade silicone products that can be used in home brewing, visit our site to view our capabilities.

Posted on: March 1st, 2016 | Posted in: NSF-51 listed materials

What Medical Designers Need to Know When Specifying “Medical Grade” Rubber Products

As Medical Design & Manufacturing West (MD&M West) fast approaches, we’re looking forward to educating attendees on what to be aware of when specifying rubber products for the medical field.

We encourage medical designers to beware when specifying “medical grade” rubber products. The key is to understand the intended use of the product before specifying it as “medical grade.”

Why is this important? Using the term “medical grade” when specifying rubber products can lead to over paying for products when it really isn’t necessary. In determining the appropriate material for any particular application, you should discuss the application parameters with your supplier. Below are some sample questions to help get started:

  1. Is the product going to be used in an “invasive” sense, meaning will the rubber product come in direct contact with the inner body cavity or with fluids entering the inner body cavity directly?
  2. Will the product be implanted for more or less than 28 days?
  3. Will the product have contact with food or fluids entering the bloodstream or digestive tract?
  4. Will the product be in contact with fluids exiting the body only?
  5. Will the product be in contact with skin?

Depending on the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to determine whether or not your application actually requires medical grade rubber products.

Want to find out whether your medical device requires medical grade materials? Vanguard Products will be on hand to answer questions and guide you toward the best options at Booth 3295 at MD&M West from February 9 to 11, 2016 in Anaheim, CA. The event will include numerous other educational opportunities throughout the week, and we look forward to learning about the latest industrial trends while also sharing our knowledge about material selection.


Posted on: February 2nd, 2016 | Posted in: Trade Shows

The Perils of Over Specifying Tolerances on Rubber Products

Determining and specifying the manufacturing tolerances for various manufactured parts is a vitally important step in product design. The purpose is to ensure that each part will fit and work efficiently when put together as a unit. If one piece is too large, or if two pieces are too close together, it can completely throw off the functionality of the finished product. In the electronics industry in particular, certain metallic pieces must maintain a certain distance from components to prevent overheating and other malfunctions. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that designers and engineers will often want to impose strict tolerance requirements in their product designs.

However,  depending on what materials are being used, it’s actually possible that designers are over specifying tolerances and boxing themselves needlessly into a corner. This is especially true when specifying rubber products and other elastomers, as they  are very different than the metal or plastic products that mechanical engineers use on a day to day basis. The dimensional tolerances in these materials, even when working with precision elastomeric products, is much larger than other types of materials due in large part  to their flexible nature. Unlike rigid materials that are rigid stiff,  rubber products can mold to fit most situations and deflect very easily.  As a result, not only is it more difficult to manufacture these types of rubber products, it is doubtful that most people would be able to measure them with the accuracy, precision, and repeatability within the tight tolerance range.

As a high precision manufacturer of elastomeric products, we’ve seen too many companies over tolerance rubber products because they aren’t as familiar with the material’s properties. We work with customers to avoid this situation and provide the best products for each application, along with optimization suggestions for lower cost manufacturing of your rubber product. For more information, feel free to call Vanguard Products at 203-744-7265 to discuss your needs.

Posted on: December 8th, 2015 | Posted in: rubber sealing

Preparing and Inspecting Heating Systems for Winter

As the temperatures begin to steadily drop, home and business owners’ thoughts turn to the readiness of the systems in their buildings to deal with the rigors of winter.  It is important for everything from your furnace  and hot water heater  to your snow blower to work at a moment’s notice to avoid the bitter cold of a January day (or night).

Preparing Pellet Stoves for Winter

Preparing Pellet Stoves for Winter

So, what is Vanguard’s role in making sure that your house is warm and your driveway is clear of those snow drifts? Quality OEM manufacturers have been using our high performance seals and tubing for years in some of their best units.  Our silicone bushings have been used in capacitors that provide starters in the HVAC systems and gas engines with the necessary “kick” to get them going on those cold days.  Our profile extrusions have been used in everything from hot water heaters to pellet stoves to keep moisture and fumes out of the living space and keep the home warm.  Our performance silicone materials are so resistant to temperature extremes that they are used in everything from structural seals on the South Pole to sealing the hottest of flue gasses on wood stoves.

It’s important to realize, though, that even the best equipment requires regular maintenance.  So, how can you make sure that these heating systems are ready for winter?

Get an Inspection: This is the easiest way to make sure everything is working as it should. And by scheduling an appointment now, before the first major snowfall, you’ll save yourself the trouble of finding out that something isn’t working when you need it most. Not only that, but if everyone tries to turn on the heat on the first really cold day, you’ll have a lot of competition for service providers who are busy trying to keep up with the influx of calls.

Insulate Water Heater Pipes: Frozen pipes are a common problem in winter, and can soon turn into burst pipes. Protect them by using appropriate insulating materials.

Replace Furnace Filters: With windows firmly shut and little ventilation indoors during winter, it’s important to regularly replace furnace air filters to keep air quality clean and healthy. This is also a good time to reevaluate the type of filter you’re using and consider upgrading to a variety that can improve energy efficiency.

Regularly Maintain Your Furnace And Hot Water Heater: This is something you might want to ask an inspector to check for you.

By doing your due diligence now, you’ll be helping to ensure a warm, comfortable winter to come.

For more information, feel free to visit our website or call 203-744-7265.

Posted on: November 4th, 2015 | Posted in: seals

Growing Popularity of Silicone & EPDM Compounds in Architectural Sealing

Those of us following trends in the construction sector have been seeing a lot of positive news lately. Workers who are upgrading infrastructure can look forward to about two more months of road work, even as the busy summer season winds down. Commuters may not be pleased with the short-term disruptions caused by this effort, but it is a necessary and beneficial action to ensure long-term safety and reliability.

In addition to these public sector construction projects, residential building is also expected to continue to increase. In particular, multifamily housing units are in high demand, with construction projects growing more than 100% over the past 5 years. According to Charlie Stewart of DC Building Group, a rise in residential construction usually signals a rise in overall construction activity. And today, that seems to be the case as more office buildings, housing options, hotels, and retail spaces are being built.

Roofing Example

Sealed Shingle Roof

And all of this activity is heightening demand for EPDM compounds and silicone in architectural sealing applications. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) is a durable and flexible material often used in roofing due to its resistance to wear – even in extreme temperatures and climates. So as the seasons change, it’s an ideal option for roofing that needs to withstand temperature fluctuations.

At Vanguard Products, Inc., we’re seeing more lightweight clear span roofing systems that are using our silicone and EPDM sealing products because of their inherent resistance to UV aging and superior cold weather flexibility, along with the ability to color match.  They  are currently being used in installations such as sporting coliseums, water treatment facilities, sewage plants, and more. By using these weather resistant architectural seals, contractors can create buildings that are better insulated from outside temperatures, which can result in lower energy costs down the road.

To learn more about EPDM elastomers for architectural sealing, and the benefits of other materials like silicone, visit Vanguard Products online for a full product review.

Posted on: October 5th, 2015 | Posted in: EPDM

The Benefits of Silicone Over Other Elastomer Materials

Elastomers are more commonly known as rubber products, and are used in a very wide range of industries. Their well-known flexibility makes these materials ideal for creating seals and other formable products that can be used in industrial settings, as well as medical settings. But with the many elastomer options out there, what makes one better than another?

Rubber Silicone Extrusions

Examples of Rubber Silicone Extrusions

Depending on the desired application, certain elastomeric materials will have properties more in line with what you need. Silicone rubber in particular is an excellent choice for numerous jobs because it continues to perform well even under extreme conditions. For example, in your personal life you may have noticed that a common rubber band will lose elasticity and become brittle in cold temperatures. This can lead the band to snap when it’s supposed to stretch. Silicone can withstand much lower temperatures than many other materials without compromising it’s flexibility. It also does well in high heat conditions. So for applications that involve high or low temperatures, or both, silicone is a good choice.

Similarly, silicone is flame retardant and can therefore be used in settings where flammability may be an issue. In the consumer electronics sector for example, you’ll want to use materials that will self extinguish quickly. This makes silicone ideal for sealing or joining components in computers and small appliances.   It’s also great for cooking products like commercial ovens and food carts, and for the automotive industry where exposure to high temperatures is common.

And because of silicone’s permeability and durability, the material is also uniquely suited for the medical device industry. It is frequently used for medical implants, drug delivery systems, and wearable devices. It can stay securely in or on the body without breaking down, while at the same time allowing the appropriate substances to flow freely through the material.

The applications for silicone tubing and sealing are endless. For more information about the industries that benefit most from this product, visit our page about Rubber/Silicone Extrusions. We are a trusted manufacturer of silicone elastomers with an ISO 9001:2008 Certified facility. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have about these products. Feel free to call us at 203-744-7265 for additional information.

Posted on: August 31st, 2015 | Posted in: Silicone Extrusions