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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.
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.
When most people hear the word, “Anaheim,” immediately they begin to think of Donald Duck, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and little else. But “Anaheim” has its own very specific connotations to Vanguard, and to many other product and materials manufacturers, assemblers, and distributors: namely, the MD & M Show, to be held this year at the Anaheim Convention Center from February 14 – 16. MD & M is the largest annual manufacturing showcase of its kind in California, and this year will doubtless prove to be no exception.
One of the key markets we’re hoping to connect with at MD & M is the medical diagnostic industry. The silicone tubing and EMIshielding gaskets we provide at Vanguard are vital to any number of high-performance pieces of medical equipment. As an example, without high-quality EMI gaskets shielding infant respiration monitors, those monitors encounter too much outside interference to register correctly.
Another such example is our ability to take a custom-molded silicone product, tweak it as is necessary, and thereby adapt it into an extruded/bonded product. Being templates, extrusions are much easier to fabricate than moldings, and are a far more cost-effective option for medical institutions to adopt.
Another reason we’re going to MD & M is for the cross-pollination factor of the event. Happening simultaneously right across the way from MD & M is Aerocon, the single largest conference and material showcase on the West Coast for the aerospace and defense industries. Just as medical monitoring equipment often requires a high-speed processor to help itself run, so do aerospace/defense applications. EMI shielding technology is essential for many types of applications from both types of industry. In short, we hope to meet, greet, and do business with representatives from both of these leading and innovative fields.
2012 is shaping up to be a significant year for American manufacturing. Statistics seem to indicate that manufacturing is recovering faster than other sectors of the US economy. We’re looking forward to MD & M (and to Aerocon) in seeing what the future has to offer. Here’s to finding great minds that think alike.
Maintenance of standards – if the standards are high enough – is most likely a sign of progress. We at Vanguard Products are very pleased to announce our recertification in accordance with ISO 9001-2008 standards for the sixth successive year, the fifth year without findings. We take this news in good stride as we enter 2012, confident that it heralds an excellent business year to come.
In order to earn an ISO 9001-2008 standard certification, a company not only must perform in accordance with its previous quality standards, but must constantly assess ways that it can improve its quality performance in the future and implement them on a continuing basis. It must also measure the effectiveness of these improvements and tweak them. In effect, a company cannot just achieve certification and “rest on its laurels.”
Firstly, one must engineer a plan of action, which – if followed correctly – can ensure successful quality management for one’s business. The plans necessarily involve meticulous bookkeeping: the standards must be clear, the quality objective guidelines must be focused, and the responsibilities of those entrusted with carrying out these quality standards must always be accurate. When it comes to selling custom manufactured engineered products, it’s a tight ship, not a leaky faucet, we’re running.
Beyond establishment of quality standards, there also lies implementation. One must effectively communicate all one’s criteria for quality throughout the company. A certified company must also be constantly aware of whichever factors are keeping one’s company at bay from its objectives. Ensuring the competent performance of company workers and managers is an absolute must. Providing the necessary infrastructure and then maintaining that infrastructure throughout the business year, are absolute necessities. If preventive measures need to be taken in order to correct the course of events, then they must be undertaken logically and without hesitation.
Communicating with clients clearly and objectively is – without a doubt – the absolute necessity of necessities. Customers must feel engaged and knowledgeable about the goods and services one is providing them, and must also regularly remain informed of any late-breaking updates in those products and services. In the end, customers must be satisfied that all their requirements were met, and, whenever possible, exceeded.
These are merely to sketch a few outlines of what it takes to be ISO 9001-2008 certified. From our humble beginnings in the 1960’s, our reputation has been centered around providing a package of the highest quality, precision, technical expertise, and service in the industry at competitive prices. We’re proud we’ve achieved this certification six years in a row. Here’s looking forward to a seventh.
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.
Now that we are moving toward the chilly winter season, it is important to keep our homes well-guarded against wind, moisture, and colder air. Door and window seals have long been used to protect one’s house against severe weather conditions, and traditionally, these types of seals are made out of vinyl or PVC. However, due to its strong high- and low-temperature resistance and durability, silicone is increasingly being used for door and window seal applications.
Silicone works well in freezing, sub-zero environments, and remains rubbery even in temperatures as low as -70° Celsius. Therefore, even in the most extreme cold, silicone seals will maintain their suppleness and never crack or disintegrate. And, unlike PVC, silicone doesn’t shrink or age in ultraviolet light, maintaining its form in every weather condition.
Due to its resistance to oxidation, UV-exposure, and ozone, silicone has become a leading candidate for many outdoor functions, and will help keep your home warm and cozy during the wintery season. Vanguard Products offers a full spectrum of extruded rubbery gaskets, seals, and hoses that can be customized for a wide variety of applications. Contact our company today for more information about the benefits of using silicone door and window seals.
The American Society of Engineers (ASME) will be hosting their annual International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition in Denver, Colorado from November 11-17th. This premier global conference focuses on exploring new solutions for global challenges, and brings together engineers, scientists, and technologists of all disciplines to discuss important research topics and breakthrough innovations that are shaping the future of engineering.
The keynote topic for this year’s exposition is Energy and Water: Two Vital Commodities. A panel of industry experts will explore the energy-water nexus, discussing how these fundamental commodities share a crucial interdependence. Other technical program tracks include, but are not limited to:
• Dynamic systems and control
• Dynamic systems and control
• Fluids and thermal systems
• Advances in aerospace technology
• Heat and mass transport processes
• Energy systems analysis, thermodynamics, and sustainability
The conference will also include a hands-on innovation workshop for both K-12 teachers and engineers, and will additionally feature a student design competition, where engineering pupils will submit their proof-of-concept prototypes for rain energy conversion. For more information about the ASME conference, check here.