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How to Protect Sensitive Equipment from Solar Flares

Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires have been causing unimaginable destruction across the country. But there is another phenomenon that has the potential to cause immeasurable damage to modern infrastructure – coronal mass ejections and solar flares.

The sun is millions of kilometres away from the earth – yet disturbances on its volatile surface can push us back into the dark ages.

Solar Flares & Coronal Mass Ejections (CME)

There are super active spots on the sun where the magnetic field is particularly concentrated. Often there are explosions around these regions which result in the ejection of a wide spectrum of radiations running the gamut from visible light to X-rays. These events are known as solar flares and based on their intensity – which is measured on a logarithmic scale – they can either expose air travellers to an increased dose of radiation or wreak havoc on GPS and satellite communication.

While solar flares are to be held in awe – coronal mass ejections (CME), often confused with solar flares are even more potent. They take a while to reach us but the directional blast comprises solar matter particles which cause distortions in the earth’s magnetic field and can cripple electrical grids.

NASA’s Response to Solar Flares and CMEs

NASA has a good idea of the repercussions of solar flares and coronal discharges. In its attempt to “keep the lights on,” it has started the Solar Shield project through which the North American grid system can identify power stations and generators that might be hit the hardest during an event so that pre-emptive and remedial measures can be put in place.

More Solar Flare Mitigation Techniques

NASA is vigilant. But that doesn’t mean all industries can rest easy. A class X behemoth can still cause a lot of damage to ground equipment, especially for military, aviation and sophisticated telecommunication.

Under these circumstances EMI/RFI shielding products prove to be effective. They act as a buffer between items and the coursing electromagnetic currents ensuring the continued operation of sensitive equipment.

Vanguard has been at the forefront of this niche and is capable of supplying EMI/RFI shielding gaskets, manufactured to customer specifications.

Please speak with a representative by contacting us at 203.744.7265 or click here to learn more about our capabilities.

EMI shielding gaskets

EMI/RFI Shielding Gaskets

It Really Is A Small World After All

One of the challenges commonly encountered by an engineered products company of our size is adequately supporting our customers around the globe.  This has become more of an issue over the past couple of years as many companies work on a single project simultaneously in multiple locations.  It is not unusual now for an engineering team to be located in Northern California, Texas, India, and China, all working on different aspects of a project, but requiring quality engineering and supply support in each location.

Vanguard has had the extreme good fortune of working with the highest quality representatives and distributors around the world for many years.  Long ago, we were on the cutting edge of establishing technically competent partners in nearly any location to support our customers.  Domestically, many of our one dozen representatives have been our partners for nearly thirty years.  A similar statement can be made of our 10 international partners spanning from Scandinavia to the Far East and Australia.   We have established extensive production capabilities at our joint venture operation in Japan.

As the markets continue to grow, we continue to work with our partners to further expand our coverage.

In the meantime, we’d like to thank our partners for their excellent support, and encourage all of our customers and potential customers to take advantage of their outstanding applications skills.

Wrapping Up 2016 with a 50th Anniversary Celebration

2016 was a milestone year in many ways, and for us, it marked 50 successful years in business. For half a century now, we’ve been providing full service manufacturing and engineering services to industries as diverse as electronics, construction, food and beverage production, and more. Over the years our capabilities have grown, and our commitment to quality has never wavered.

From the humble beginnings in the family basement in the 60’s to our sophisticated manufacturing today, it is interesting to look back at some of the things that our company has been involved in over the years.

In the last 50 years, Vanguard has:

  • Worked with our customers to bring air conditioning, lighting, and electricity to the world
  • Brought quality coffee, wrinkle free clothes and various other innovations to the marketplace through our work in the small appliance industry
  • Helped advanced the defense of the US with our work with the military and military contractors, including work on Marine 1, the President’s helicopter
  • Aided in the exploration and commercialization of space travel with our work on the International Space Station and the various commercial launch companies. We’ve also been involved in the pursuit of the next frontier–Mars
  • In the medical arena, we’ve worked with our customers to develop implements for cranial surgery, provided products for various surgical implements to decrease recovery time, helped develop products that allow children with respiratory ailments and paralyzed patients to breathe easier, and provided cutting edge products that allow children and adults with severe diabetes to lead more normal lives. Additionally, we’ve done substantial work in the medical analytical field from blood to DNA analysis.  We’ve also provided numerous products to our customers in the dental and vision care industries to improve safety
  • Manufactured products used by our customers to aid the booming cellular and computer industries
  • Worked with our customers in the green energy fields in the development of efficient solar power systems and electric vehicles
  • Added style to the fashion industry and theater through our work on Broadway sets and fashion jewelry
  • Provided key products to allow clean water to be brought throughout the world
  • Supported farming through our work with suppliers to the agricultural and dairy industries
  • Helped the hobbyists around the world in their leisure time endeavors, from RC cars and planes, to hunting and fishing, to canoeing and paddleboarding, to beer making and virtual reality gaming
  • Along with our customers, developed new innovative products for the food services industry


At Vanguard, though it is good to look back, we are always focusing forward. In the next year, we will be pursuing our ISO-9001/2015 certification, and looking to new markets and applications. We are looking forward to what the next 50 years will bring!

The Implications of Air Quality

Air quality is a widely used metric in a variety of portions of our lives. Its composition, particulates, and purity are all of concern for several applications – weather services regularly measure the air in a variety of ways to gather information about our atmospheric conditions and pollution levels; hospitals monitor the quality of the air in patient rooms and “clean rooms”; manufacturing floors for the semiconductor industry are stringently measured for air quality concerns. Even something as inconspicuous as the makeup of the air we breathe can have significant implications for these and other industries.

The measurement process is a complicated procedure, and the accuracy of the measurements is crucial for a successful and useful end result. One problem that often occurs is that, for a number of reasons, the sampling tubing used can cause buildups on the walls of the tubing of the very particulates that are being measured. This can cause some wildly inaccurate readings of air quality, as the ratio of particulate to the volume of air sampled is a critical factor in these readings.

At Vanguard, we have developed some special silicone materials that help in getting accurate readings when used as part of the sampling mechanism, such as in the sampling tubing. These silicone materials have special additives in them to combat the buildup of particulate on the sampling walls through phenomenon such as static buildup. Further, these compounds are made from materials that will not add chemicals or particulate to the airstream, leading to extraordinarily accurate readings.

While it’s easy to ignore the air around us, knowing its properties and being able to regulate them affords us some pretty amazing things – the manufacture of semiconductors in your smartphone, the accuracy of information on your local weather channel, and the preservation of many old or brittle artifacts in museums, to name a few. At Vanguard, we breathe easy knowing we provide one solution in the process for air quality measurement, and have a hand in its many expansive applications.

Vanguard and Hurricane Sandy: Providing Customers with Shelter from the Storm

Vanguard_hurricane_Sandy_Providing_ShelterWhen Hurricane Sandy pile-drove into the New York Metropolitan Area, it didn’t take much for anyone who was caught in it to realize that the night was going to be a long and potentially dangerous one. Unfortunately, those instincts were spot-on. Hurricane Sandy proved to be the worst natural disaster to befall the New York region in nearly a century (the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 being the worst “natural disaster”). Over one hundred people in the Tri-State Area alone lost their lives due to the storm. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses suffered damage from flooding and 80 mph winds; many neighborhoods also were decimated by fire. In total, the official tally of damage now amounts to an estimated $71 billion, of which $9 billion is earmarked to improve the storm protection infrastructure of the region in the event of a future disaster of this scale.

Our own facility here in Connecticut lucked out: we suffered no remarkable damage to either our property or production capability. And as many tragedies happened that day, there were an equal number of stories of resistance and resilience in the face of Nature. In fact, many homes and businesses equipped with hurricane shutters and/or floodgate systems came through the disaster in good working order. While many companies should take credit for providing protection for businesses throughout the region, we at Vanguard contributed as well by providing  the gaskets and  seals we extrude here at our facility to several companies that expertly manufacture hurricane and flood protection equipment  used throughout public and private infrastructure to help insure no rain or water creeps (or sweeps) into a building.

Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call of sorts to New York and the surrounding environs. Hurricanes, as it turns out, are no longer simply the province of Florida, Louisiana, or the Carolinas; they can happen right here in Connecticut and they can be heartbreakingly devastating. Now that the superstorm’s fury has passed, it’s time to insure that our houses, offices, warehouses, factories, and storefronts are secure from any future danger.   Meanwhile, here at Vanguard, we’ll keep working with the manufacturers that produce this high quality protection equipment and providing them with the highest quality sealing products in the industry.

Vanguard: Reporting from the Front Lines of the 4G Revolution

At this moment on Earth, there are approximately 6 billion cell phones in operation. Of these six-odd billion, some 1.2 billion of these phones include mobile web access features. Already the mind goes into overdrive trying to comprehend the bandwidth needed for a wireless network of such dimensions. To cap it all off, with high-speed, digital 4G networks sprouting up overnight (and trans-globally), the wireless capacity of the world is ever more taxed to deliver better, faster, more broad ranging services for an ever-growing number of users.  While many figures in business, politics, and academia devote their careers to tackling the long-term need of increasing capacity, there are others who are caught up in the moment-by-moment race to deliver services at the pace at which they’re demanded.

Vanguard’s Ultra-Vanshield and Microbridge EMI shieldinggaskets are ideal for providing EMI shielding and weather sealing for the base station units that are critical to providing this increased level of service. These base stations are responsible for sorting through the boggling number of wireless operations (anything ranging from speech channels, to transmissions, to pages, to clear reception) occurring at any given moment in the ether.

Base sub-stations – BSS’s – transcode the actions of millions of cell phone users and incorporate them into the greater wireless cellular network. With the level of energy surging through these base sub-stations at any given hour of the day, there’s a matching need to provide protection from both within and without: within, to ensure signal clarity and interference free operation, and without to protect the units from outside unwanted RFI interference while providing substantial weather seal protection—a critical consideration in light of the places where the BSS is physically located, quite often in areas where the climatic elements are brutal, and the units are difficult to service.

At Vanguard Products, we manufacture standard customized, weatheright seals to protect base sub stations from malfunctioning. Our materials and handiwork can be found in BSS systems throughout world  in some of the most punishing outdoor environments you could name. With a reputation for military-grade reliability under all circumstances, our seals will keep your communications systems up and running far into this century.

Hoping to See You in Philly at MD&M East!

md&m east

As most of those reading this blog will already know, MD&M is the premiere conference and get-together for those in the medical device industry, whether they’re manufacturers, distributors, or end-users. The MD&M East Show taking place from May 21 – 24 in Philadelphia should prove no exception. The leading authorities in every possible medical manufacturing field – from cleanroom and sterilization, to medical grade materials, to electronic components and subassemblies, to motors, pumps, and motion control devices – will be strutting their latest products and findings at the Philadelphia Convention Center, located at 1101 Arch Street. In addition, 16 full-day conference programs will be offered to those who wish to attend them. Important discussion topics will include process validation, medical polymers, product development process, compliance, product lifecycle management, and global quality. Visitors can customize their own experience of these various topics by moving from one conference room to another.Being at the forefront of the medical manufacturing revolution (medical manufacturing itself being at the forefront of the new American “manufacturing renaissance”), Vanguard Products  will be looking, as always, for new clients and partnerships with others interested in making OEM medical devices of the first caliber. With our ability to provide both rubber extrusions and customized moldings, along with our intensive familiarity in EMI/RFI shielding gaskets, conductive gaskets, and silicone materials, we hope to impart our knowledge and services to those who are most looking to use them. We look forward to meeting with you at the Convention itself, as well as the possibility of exploring Philadelphia together in the hours between presentations and exhibitions.

Vanguard Takes the Lead in Designing N/B/C-Resistant Shielding


vanguard emi shielding gasketsWhen given the acronym “NBC,” most Americans might be forgiven for flashing instantly to the media conglomerate that broadcasts hit shows such as “30 Rock” and the “NBC Nightly News.” But those who are in a certain line of work know an additional meaning for the acronym: “nuclear-biological-chemical.” Defense manufacturers and service-members alike realize the importance of having equipment that is resistant to the deadliest hazards of the modern battlefield.

EMI shielding is a must for military electronics in general, and insuring that the EMI shielding will perform its job in even the harshest (and most unfortunate) circumstances is one of the necessities of 21stcentury warfare. If, Heaven forbid, a tactical nuclear device were actually to be used against American forces, there would be the need for EMI shielding gasketsthat are not only proof against the blast radiation itself, but are also resistant to the powerful cleaning agents used on vehicles and equipment that have been subjected to that level of aggression.

Vanguard Products is fully capable of manufacturing such N/B/C-resistant EMI shielding gaskets. We account for everything from biological warfare to jet fuel spillage when we design our ITAR-certified custom shielding. The fact is our troops go into battle with some of the most advanced technology the world has ever seen, and that technology comes with highly specific requirements for remaining effective in the worst of conditions.

Insuring Galvanic Compatibility for Defense Electronics

In 1990, with the Soviet Union in its death throes, it seemed high time to begin stowing away some of the tens of thousands of tons of electronics the United States military had accumulated to fight the Cold War. At least, that was the line of thinking in the first half of the year. Then, that August, Iraqi forces rolled into Kuwait, and our line of thinking had to change yet again in preparation for the First Gulf War. 

As American forces began their rapid build-up to Desert Storm, a major issue came to light. The electronic equipment onboard tanks, Humvees, and mobile artillery, much of which had been corralled in storage sheds throughout the United States and West Germany, began to malfunction in the rugged desert environment. Due galvanic incompatibility, caused in many cases by inadequate EMI shielding gaskets and gasket design, the electronic enclosures on many of these items simply couldn’t withstand the environment they were subjected to, and began in many cases, just falling apart.

In short, the American military discovered what thousands of grade school science students have discovered when building their first primitive wet cell batteries:   galvanic action can cause the fast sacrifice of enclosures, especially aluminum and magnesium, in tough environments. The need became apparent to develop moldings, extrusions, and EMI/RFI shielding gaskets that would allow for the American military’s high-performance, high-maintenance electronic equipment to perform at optimal level for long periods of time.

Since those days of 1991, we’ve come a long way in terms of our design-work for military electronics and, by extension,  ruggedized commercial applications. At Vanguard Products  we’ve fabricated any number of custom moldings, rubber extrusions, and shielding gaskets for some of the most sophisticated vehicles and weapons systems in America’s arsenal. Just ask the soldiers and marines who fought in the Second Gulf War. While it’s a given that mil-spec equipment is prone to breakage and failure in wartime (just as in peacetime), the anticipated epidemic of mechanical and electronic failures similar to the First Gulf War never materialized for the Second, at least not on the same scale. It’s because we as a country had learned our lessons from 1991. It’s because companies like Vanguard Products had applied those lessons with consideration and care to the equipment they had designed.

The Effects of Miniaturization of Applications on Components and Materials


It was not so long ago – most likely in a majority of our lifetimes – when the highest-performance computing machines of the day took up half the space of an entire large university, corporate, or government laboratory building. Consider the goliath-sized computer of the 50s and 60s, and then compare their computational power to the touch-screen iPhone you may very well right now be holding in your hand. That iPhone holds exponentially greater levels of functionality than did those unwieldy behemoths from 50 years back. Nor does the trend need be observed from the vantage point of decades in order to be readily apparent. During the later course of this year, all the major Smartphone and computer suppliers introducing items that bear all the features and functions of the original model – but still uses a considerably smaller amount of space. It all boils down to the ever-increasing (or should we say decreasing trend) in electronics and mechanics: the miniaturization of parts, components, and applications.

From the Smartphone to the Smartcar, it seems as though the trend were endemic in most, if not all, industries. Since Vanguard makes its business both in supplying EMI/RFI gasket shielding for electronic devices, as well as more conventional extrusions and molds for silicone- and elastomer-based products (that don’t necessarily have an electrical application), we make it our business to keep current with the ongoing miniaturization process, and how it affects our industry and the business we conduct as a company.

In order for manufacturers like ourselves to remain ahead of the curve, we must anticipate the new demands for miniaturization. We must readily be able to provide EMI shields for ever smaller computers, phones, and electronic reading devices. By necessity, we must heed the so-called “Moore’s Law,” which posits that the number of transistors on any given circuit is able to double within the next 18 months. With technology moving ever more swiftly, we must ever more swiftly keep pace with its advances, and be capable of presenting solutions in anticipation of these issues as much as (if not more than) in reaction of them.