Like it or not, the world is permeated with man-made electromagnetic interference (EMI). Power cables and signal lines, high speed electronics, antennae and ground connections have tallied up to produce a noisy can negatively affect the day-to-day performance of the sensitive electronics we depend upon daily. Now, add to these factors the raw harshness of the elements year-in and year-out. Salt fog and moisture combined with commonly used enclosure materials such as aluminum and magnesium can make for a challenging combination when coupled with the need for a high performance EMI shielding gasket. You can see how electronic equipment wears down as fast and furiously as it sometimes does, or, worse yet, it may never make it out of the approval process into production due to test failure for these factors.
It’s almost obvious that the great outdoors can put a damper on high-tech applications. Vanguard Products Corporation has been working on this challenge for quite some time. Since the 1980’s, we’ve been testing, perfecting, and manufacturing EMI shielding gaskets fitted for rugged terrain and punishing weather, all while providing the highest level shielding performance possible. Our extensive development efforts have yielded two unique approaches to the challenge of dual function EMI/weather sealing gaskets: our dual elastomer ULTRA-VANSHIELD ® gaskets and our newest addition, our dual elastomer MICROBRIDGE® gaskets. Both of these approaches protect against the wind, rain, and moisture all while providing the highest level of EMI shielding available.
A great deal of thought has gone into the design of the ULTRA-VANSHIELD ® and the MICROBRIDGE® products. Each style of shielding gasket features high performance component materials. The ULTRA-VANSHIELD® product features a continuously extruded, high-strength silicone rubber core, and a co-extruded highly conductive metal-filled silicone layer which can be paired galvanically to your enclosure material to reduce galvanic action, and manufactured in a configuration that allows for a non-conductive environmental sealing portion to be oriented outbound to eliminate dust and/or moisture to filter onto the conductive EMI shield or into the electrical components. The MICROBRIDGE® products take this approach even further by incorporating a secondary weatherseal on the interior of the gasket as well, completely isolating the conductive portion from galvanic accelerants. Both approaches allow for all this functionality in a cost effective, single piece package.
It’s been a long road from conceptualization to manufacturing these products, but the results speak for themselves with their high performance properties.
Oftentimes, we see an underlying trend throughout history where industrial technology trickles down from military to civilian use. Just to give you a few modern examples: the biplanes and triplanes of World War One became the first passenger planes of the 20s and 30s. The NAVSTAR military satellites that were launched into Cold War orbit to help guide ICBMs to their targets in the Soviet Union now can help you calculate how much longer you’ll be sitting in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway using GPS. And then of course there’s the Internet, which was invented initially back in the 1960s to allow the American government and military a means of post-apocalyptic communication that wouldn’t be destroyed by nuclear attack. And today what do we use the Net for? Well… uh, to look up the next pair of socks we’re going to buy?
Civilian technology has come a long way since the days of the Red Baron.
It’s pretty much the same trickle-down effect with the EMI shielding gasket. The EMI shielding gasket was originally widely used by the military to harden their electronics packages against enemy monitoring and jamming, and to prevent their own equipment from interfering with each other. Many of the military applications delved into the very-high (above 20 GHz) frequencies. In the meantime, “civilian” applications for these gaskets have been required to perform in the 1.5 – 2 GHz range. But with the rapidly developing complexity of high-frequency electronics for manufacturing, communications, and information systems, all that has changed quickly.
With the continuing refinement of our dual-elastomer Ultra-Vanshield EMI gaskets, with a thin outer conducive silver membrane that covers a pure, soft elastomer core, the multi-gigahertz revolution continues. Because of the stellar mechanical performance of this technology coupled with the high level of conductivity, these gaskets have unmatched shielding performance in these very high frequency applications. Expect nothing less from Vanguard. We wouldn’t be at the forefront of gasket technology if we weren’t investigating the new and evermore complex avenues for building tomorrow’s shielding gaskets.