Author: Robert McKeown
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding uses electrically conductive or magnetic materials to block electromagnetic interference in a given area. Electromagnetic interference can occur naturally in the form of solar flares, lightning, and aurora borealis. It is also caused by human activity such as cell phone signals, engine ignition switches, computers, and electrical equipment.
Due to the widespread use of sensitive electronic equipment for everything from transportation to banking and utility infrastructure, it is more important than ever to ensure the safety of electronic systems through the use of EMI shielding products and dedicated techniques. With the proper EMI protection, electronic systems will remain reliable and dependable in the face of both natural and man-made electronic interference.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SHIELDING
Although electromagnetic waves are extremely common in this day and age, they still present a wide array of issues for sensitive equipment. EMI can cause anything from temporary interruption of system operations to critical failures. Depending on the application and equipment, such disturbances can be expensive, time consuming, and even dangerous to the health and safety of workers. For this reason, EMI shielding is a critical component for any system that is susceptible to electromagnetic interference.
Electromagnetic interference is essentially radiation energy that exhibits either a magnetic or electric field. This type of energy spans a broad range of visible and invisible radiation spectrum, and includes:
- Gamma rays
- Longwave radiation
- Radio and television waves
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Infrared light and heat
Due to the ubiquity of electronic equipment, it is no surprise that numerous critical applications and industries are at risk of damage due to electromagnetic interference. The medical, military, industrial, aerospace, and transportation sectors all require reliable electrical systems that cannot be interrupted without dangerous consequences. For this reason, it is more important than ever to have reliable EMI shielding.
BREAKING DOWN THE BIG PICTURE
EMI shielding comes in a variety of materials and designs, and can be engineered to meet the needs of specific equipment and applications. Components that may be modified for use in EMI shielding arrays include gaskets, wires, tapes, metal screens, and laminates, among many others. It is important to select the right material for the application to ensure optimal shielding of radiation at the correct wavelengths.
Some of the most common materials used in EMI shielding include:
Carbon steel is often used in EMI shielding equipment, due to its exceptional strength and durability. It serves as an excellent shielding material for low-frequency magnetic waves, but can be heavier than other shielding materials and is susceptible to corrosion and oxidation. As an alternative, galvanized steel is an inexpensive and widely used shielding material that has been heat treated and exhibits a protective coating to prevent rust and corrosion.
Like galvanized steel, aluminum is less expensive than other shielding materials. Aluminum is lightweight, strong, and highly conductive, which makes it particularly useful for blocking a wide range of electronic waves. Of note, however, it is less effective than steel for protection against low-frequency electromagnetic radiation.
Copper is by far the most popular EMI shielding material for radio and magnetic frequencies. It is highly conductive and easily formable, and easily absorbs magnetic, radio, and electrical waves. Although it is highly effective as a shielding material, pure copper may erode when exposed to certain elements in air and water.
COPPER ALLOY 770
To mitigate pure copper’s susceptibility to oxidation, Copper Alloy 770, a blend of copper, nickel, and zinc, is often used for EMI shielding products. Copper Alloy 770 exhibits similar radio and magnetic wave absorption without the potential for corrosion.
Tin-plated steel is a popular inexpensive EMI shielding material that is ideal for radiation in low kHz and GHz frequencies. Like plain carbon steel, tin-plated steel protects equipment from low-frequency magnetic waves with the added benefit of corrosion protection. In addition to enhancing the material’s corrosion resistance, tin plating can easily be soldered to system components.
QUALITY EMI SHIELDING FROM ROBERT MCKEOWN
At Robert McKeown, we know that electromagnetic interference can have lasting negative effects on electronic equipment. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality EMI shielding solutions for reliable, long-lasting protection of your electronic systems. To learn more about our superior EMI shielding products and services, contact us today or request a quote.
Dear Valued Customer,
Over the past several weeks we have dealt with an unprecedented challenge and have responded professionally to maintain the health and well-being of one another while maintaining the critical role we play in supporting our customers around the world.
The Robert McKeown Company is committed to the well being of all our employees and community. To reduce the impact of COVID-19 we have taken steps to transition staff offsite while protecting our in-house production and shipping staff.
Our business is classified as “essential” due to the military and other markets that we serve. As a result, we are allowed to continue operating. Our goal is to support the supply chain and movement of critical goods.
We will continue to monitor direction from state and federal government related to declarations of state emergency orders and are prepared to support those directives as required.
We appreciate your business and patience during this difficult time and will keep you updated on any changes as the situation continues to evolve.
Please call us should you have any concerns or questions.
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) can significantly impact the performance and overall lifespan of electrical and electronic equipment. EMI gaskets—also referred to as shielding gaskets or RFI gaskets (when use for blocking radio frequency signals)—serve as one solution to this problem. These devices physically close gaps in equipment enclosures to seal in or seal out EMI produced by the equipment or surrounding environment, respectively.
Typically made from metal, elastomers, or wire mesh, their critical function makes them essential for any industry that employs sensitive electrical and electronic devices. However, choosing one for an EMI shielding application can be challenging as it often necessitates an understanding of how they work and the types available to ensure optimal performance.
To facilitate the EMI gasket selection process for our customers, we’ve put together the following blog post, which outlines how EMI gaskets function, the types available, and their industrial applications.
FUNCTIONS OF EMI GASKETS
The primary functions of EMI gaskets are to:
- Isolate sensitive equipment from potential sources of EMI
- Reduce the amount of EMI leaking into or out of an equipment enclosure
They achieve these functions by filling up the gaps between joined equipment surfaces, preventing EMI from entering or exiting the enclosure.
TYPES OF EMI GASKETS
When choosing an EMI gasket for an electrical or electronic application, material is a key factor to keep in mind. EMI gaskets are available in a variety of materials, each of which offers unique properties that make it suitable for use in different applications and operational environments.
Some of the types of gaskets available include:
- Beryllium copper EMI gaskets. Copper is highly conductive, and beryllium copper is highly versatile. When used for EMI gaskets, these qualities combined make for superior performance and suitability for formation into custom shapes and sizes.
- Conductive elastomer EMI gaskets. Similar to beryllium copper gaskets, these gaskets are high-performing. Made from elastomer material, such as silicone and other rubbers, and often embedded with metallic components, they require pressure to form an adequate EMI shield.
- Wire mesh EMI gaskets. Wire mesh EMI gaskets can create permanent seals and provide high levels of shielding. However, they do not include an environmental seal element.
INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS OF EMI GASKETS
EMI shielding gaskets find use in a wide range of industrial applications, including:
- Automotive control systems. As car technology advances, automobiles increasingly integrate electrical and electronic systems, including ones for control, navigation, communication, and media. The placement of these multiple systems in a confined space can generate high levels of EMI, which can affect their performance and function. Using EMI gaskets isolates the systems from one another, protecting them from the potential effects of EMI.
- Computers. EMI gaskets shield sensitive computer components from EMI generated by neighboring components and environmental sources, preventing the corruption of important data and ensuring they continue to operate as needed.
- High-speed electronics. High-speed electronics are highly sensitive to electronic signals. EMI gaskets ensure that these devices receive the right signals from the correct sources.
- Medical devices. As medical devices are often used in critical applications, such as analyzing and monitoring patient condition, they must offer reliable and consistent performance. Using EMI gaskets ensures that other electronic and electrical devices do not interfere with their function.
- Military systems. Military systems are increasingly relying on advanced electronics, including aviation systems, inventory controls, monitoring and satellite systems, and communication devices. EMI gaskets can reduce the amount of “noise” these devices emit and experience, ensuring smoother functionality.
- Smartphones. Much like computers, smartphones have multiple electronic components in a small space. Without shielding, EMI from one component can interfere with the performance of another.
CONTACT THE SHIELDING GASKET EXPERTS AT ROBERT MCKEOWN TODAY
EMI gaskets protect sensitive electrical and electronic devices and systems from EMI. At Robert McKeown, we offer high-quality shielding gaskets for use in industrial applications. To learn more about our EMI gasket offerings, contact us or request a quote.
The effects of electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electrostatic discharge (ESD) can be devastating to sensitive electronic and electrical equipment and the employees that operate them. For example:
- EMI can ruin data collection and transmission, degrade signals, and interfere with or damage critical devices such as pacemakers.
- ESD can cause component failure and circuit destruction and result in electrical shock if the charge is not adequately dissipated.
Shielding products—such as shielding tapes—help disperse ESD and block EMI to minimize the risk of injury to life and limb and ensure the continued operation of the equipment. Shielding tapes act as a sealant. Instead of sealing in or out liquids, dirt, and other physical contaminants, they create a barrier that isolates the equipment and seals in or seals out EMI, ESD, and radio wave signals generated by environmental sources or the equipment itself.
Due to their critical function in electronic and electrical devices, shielding tapes find application in a wide range of industries, including medical and aerospace. Within these industries, companies employ EMI seals to protect their equipment and employees.
ADVANTAGES OF USING SHIELDING TAPE
When used in electronic and electrical systems for industrial applications, EMI shielding tape offers numerous advantages, including:
- Broader design flexibility and versatility. Shielding tapes are available in a variety of designs, materials, and sizes, which allows them to be tailored for use in a wide range of equipment and employee protection applications.
- Easier application and use. The application of EMI tape requires minimal surface preparation—i.e., ensuring the surface is dry and clean—and no specialized tools. As shielding tapes generally come with a pre-applied adhesive backing, they only require sufficient pressure to ensure adhesion to the equipment surface. As a grounding solution, the metallic part of the tape helps to disperse electrical charges safely without needing screws or other fasteners.
- Reduced crosstalk. Using these tapes reduces crosstalk—i.e., the interference of one signal by another nearby signal—across program or transmission channels.
- Greater protective properties. Shielding tapes minimize the adverse effects of ESD and ESI, resulting in greater protection for employees and equipment.
- Better durability. Many shielding tapes demonstrate superior abrasion and corrosion resistance and flame retardant properties, which enable them to withstand the stresses of use and result in longer service lives.
WHY WORK WITH SHIELDING TAPE EXPERTS?
With the numerous types of shielding tapes available, choosing the right one for a shielding application can be difficult. In these situations, it helps to get help. By consulting with an experienced fabricator and distributor of shielding tapes, customers receive qualified advice about which tape(s) is/are suitable for their needs or application and how best to apply it/them.
ORDER YOUR CUSTOM SHIELDING TAPES TODAY
Shielding products such as shielding tapes help protect your equipment and employees from EMI and ESD. At Robert McKeown, we offer shielding tapes and gaskets for use in industrial shielding applications. To further customize these EMI shielding products to our customers’ needs, we offer die cutting services.
Electrically conductive tapes provide separation between hazardous equipment and operators, ensuring the safety of the latter. Available in a wide range of types to meet varying operational or performance requirements, these products find use in a variety of industrial applications.
TYPES OF TAPES
Some of the common types of electrical and electronic tape employed in industrial applications include:
- Black Vinyl Tape: This tape’s ability to withstand a wide range of elements makes it the industry standard for electrical insulation and isolation. Although it demonstrates high strength and durability, it can be easily removed with little to no residue. It also exhibits excellent UV resistance.
- Thermal Insulating Tape: This electrical isolation tape is used to keep high heat away from equipment, such as wires, cables, and hoses, and on or near equipment that poses as a fire hazard, such as engines and furnaces. When heated, it becomes sticky, giving the tape greater adhesive flexibility. Cooling the tape allows for easy repositioning or removal of parts during assembly.
- Heat Sealing Tape: Heat sealing tape is used on machines that reach very high temperatures, such as vacuum sealers. It provides a barrier between the heat source and other objects, protecting the latter from melting.
- Acetate Cloth Tape: Acetate cloth tape is aesthetically pleasing and exhibits excellent conformability in coil-wrapping applications and high adhesion and insulation properties. It can also absorb resins and varnishes.
- Electrically Conductive Adhesive Tape: Electrically conductive adhesive tape provides reliable electronic isolation, ensuring that there is no direct connection between two or more circuits or adjacent parts. This tape is used in many industries, including electrical, medical, and pharmaceutical, for a variety of purposes.
- Electrical Insulation Tape: Electrical insulation tape provides the versatility and reliability needed for critical applications by limiting overvoltage and isolating any circuits that may be hazardous if connected.
- Paper Electronic Tape: Paper electronic tape satisfies a range of in-process and packaging needs of “through-hole” electronic component manufacturers. It is used in applications such as banding coils, coverings bobbin-wound coils, and end-turn taping.
- Paper Masking Tape: This tape is designed to provide temporary bonds during electrical component construction applications. It is also used in die-cutting operations.
- Silicone Solid Rubber Tape: Silicone solid rubber tape is manufactured in different formulations that provide varying properties, such as extreme temperature resistance, excellent tensile strength, and superior tear resistance.
- Composite Bonding Tape: Depending on the type employed, composite bonding tape demonstrates a variety of properties, such as electrical, chemical, and heat resistance, low coefficient of friction, abrasion resistance, and conformable release surfaces.
INDUSTRIAL USES FOR ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC TAPE
Each electrical and electronic tape can serve a number of purposes in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, such as:
Within the electrical industry, electrical and electronic tapes perform several functions. Typical functions include serving as protective jacketing for high-voltage cables and wire harnesses, providing electrical insulation, wrapping, sealing, and insulating cables to protect the equipment and operators, masking circuit boards components, and serving as wire labeling for safety.
Electrical and electronic tapes provide thermal management in a variety of industrial applications. They help keep heat within a reasonable temperature range for the equipment.
Composite bonding tapes allow engineers to meet specific performance requirements by providing strength and reliability in critical applications. They allow for the bonding of dissimilar materials—such as metals, glass, rubber, and fiber-reinforced composites—to allow for a combination of advantageous characteristics in the overall system.
Within the construction and building industry, electrical and electronic tapes allow for greater design flexibility, higher strength bonds, and faster operations. For some applications, they can replace fasteners such as screws and rivets.
Tapes are used to facilitate a variety of maintenance tasks, including repairs, painting, and marking safety areas.
Typical applications of electrical and electronic tape in the automotive industry include:
- Mounting attachment parts
- Wire harnessing
- Cable mounting
- Mirror assembly
- Permanent paint protection
- Surface protection
Adhesive tapes facilitate the production of a variety of renewable energy equipment from start to finish. For example, electrical tape provides frame bonding and permanent edge protection for solar panels. Additionally, during the manufacture of wind tube blades, tape can be used for mold preparation, lay-up and infusion, and permanent application on the finished blade.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTIVE TAPES AT RMK
At Robert McKeown Co., Inc., we specialize in electrically conductive tapes and films for industrial applications. Since 1937, our team has been dedicated to innovating and maintaining open communication with clients to deliver high-quality solutions tailored to their unique needs.
Regardless of whether you need next-day availability, fast-track quotes, or express and next-day samples and prototypes, we can fulfill the requirements of your project. To learn more about how our electronic tapes and adhesives can benefit your next project, contact us, or request a quote.
Robert McKeown offers a variety of adhesive and sealant products for a wide range of commercial and industrial applications.
Rotary die cutting is a quick, cost-efficient way to manufacture products that require precise shapes, cuts, and folds without sacrificing speed of construction. This makes it a great way to build mass-produced items like boxes and other packaging from paper, plastic, and metal, as well as electronic component assembly parts, decals, stickers, foam products, and more.
Although other die cutting methods exist (such as flatbed, matched metal, and laser die cutting), rotary die cutting is often the best choice for industrial uses. It is quicker than both flatbed and laser die cutting and it can easily manage heavy or tough materials.
HOW ROTARY DIE CUTTING CAN STREAMLINE YOUR PRODUCTION PROCESS
Although all types of die cutting bring their own benefits—and in some cases, you might use more than one method for the same die cutting project—a rotary die cutter offers several advantages that place it above other methods:
- Ease of cutting: Rotary die cutting machines can cut through just about any material, from paper and magnets to foam, metal, and cork, at efficient speeds.
- Speed and efficiency: Rotary die cutting is an excellent choice for completing large production runs. Since the cutting pattern is set in the machine, it does not need to be adjusted between cuts, meaning that it can process large amounts of material with little to no error.
- Quick turnarounds: Rotary die cutting’s efficiency makes it easy to move materials from concept to finished product.
- Precision: Rotary die cutting replicates precise cuts, so you can be sure each item you produce is identical to the last. It’s the most accurate die cutting option, which is why it’s often favored for production runs that require consistency and uniformity.
- Less waste: Rotary die cutting creates less waste than other procedures, which is both more economical for the company and more sustainable for the environment.
- Multipurpose: Rotary die cutters can perform several tasks depending on the project’s needs, such as laminating, kiss cutting (to create adhesives), embossing, and more. They can also perform inline packaging as required.
- Durability: Rotary die cutting machines rely on straightforward processes that result in minimal wear and tear on components.
CUSTOM DIE-CUT PARTS FOR ANY APPLICATION
Because rotary die cutting is so effective for creating metal products, it’s commonly used to build electronic parts. Due to their conductivity and malleability, metals like copper, nickel, aluminum, and silver are regularly used for electronic components like capacitors and transducers. These metals are all easily cut with rotary die cutting.
But that’s not all: many other industries use rotary die cutting to quickly, efficiently, and accurately produce all sorts of small products. Some of the most prevalent manufacturing sectors that use rotary die cutting include:
- Shipping: Shippers use rotary die cutting to manufacture cardboard boxes, envelopes, tickets, stickers, labels, and more
- Medical devices: Rotary die cutting consistently delivers the precision and detail required to create a wide array of medical parts
- Aerospace and automotive: The method is regularly used to create heat shields and sensitive navigation components
- Appliances: Rotary die cutters work with a wide range of materials to create sound-dampening foam products for use in appliances
EXPERT ASSISTANCE FROM OUR DIE-CUTTING EXPERTS
Whether you face tight deadlines, need precise replication, or require high-volume production runs, using rotary die cutting brings many advantages to help satisfy your demands. The custom die cutter team at Robert McKeown Company, Inc., is happy to work with you to create the custom or standard parts that your needs.
From simple systems to complex components, we’re up for all types of assignments and look forward to working on yours. Request your quote for your project to learn more about what our team can do for you.
Liquid silicone rubber (LSR) is a two-part, platinum-cured elastomer that manufacturers inject into mold cavities to create components that withstand weather extremes and product aging. This versatile product remains useful in temperatures as low as -65°C and as high as 150°C.
LASTING BENEFITS FOR ANY APPLICATION AND INDUSTRY
Several additional characteristics render LSR the material of choice for many different applications and industries. Some key examples include:
- Biocompatibility: LSR’s elastomeric composition enables it to resist bacterial growth. It’s entirely tasteless and odorless, and tests have indicated exceptional compatibility with human body fluids and tissue
- Chemical resistance: LSR can resist oxidation and corrosive chemicals
- Temperature resistance: LSR can withstand low and high temperature extremes
- Mechanical properties: LSR offers high tear resistance and tensile strength along with excellent flexibility and elongation capacities
- Electric properties: LSR can insulate against many different forms of electricity
- Transparency and pigmentation: Because LSR is naturally transparent, it allows manufacturers to create colorful and fully customized rubber-molded products
CONSUMER GOODS AND ELECTRONICS
Consumers today seek high-quality, durable goods built to last. Working LSR into your manufacturing processes can make the difference between products people buy and products they leave on the shelf. LSR silicone appears in a diverse field of everyday items such as:
- Kitchen goods: Baking pans, spatulas, barbecue brushes, and cooking pans
- Cosmetic goods: Mascara brushes, makeup applicators, and lipstick molds
- Wearable technology: Fitness trackers and smartwatches
- Electronics: Small components like connector seals, grommets, and strain-relief devices
LSR is seeing an exponential rise in use among vehicle manufacturers. Because it can withstand extreme weather conditions and stretching, it’s an excellent material to use in a variety of automotive applications, including:
- Windshield wipers, which incorporate LSR due to its heat resistance and flexibility
- LED headlights, which use LSR’s transparency to amplify emitted light, resulting in better visual clarity for drivers; because LED bulbs use less energy than other light bulbs, LSR enables cars to be more energy efficient and budget friendly
- Airbag coating and sealing
- Components used under the hoods of vehicles
- Buttons, gaskets, and wiring harness components
HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DEVICES
LSR helps manufacturers create safe and reliable medical devices and components. Medical devices need to operate within tight tolerances to improve the safety and health of patients and providers. LSR helps meet these specifications while keeping parts cost efficient:
- Medical devices placed inside patients’ bodies are commonly made of LSR, because this material won’t leak potentially dangerous chemicals
- Drug-eluding devices (DEDs)
- Flow-control valves and syringe stoppers
- Baby care products
- Wearable devices for monitoring
- Respiratory masks
BUILDING LSR SOLUTIONS WITH ROBERT MCKEOWN
LSR brings widespread benefits to a diverse array of industries, and our team will work with you to create products that you can distribute with pride. If you would like to learn more about how our LSR products will improve your latest project, contact us and request a free quote today.
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) — also called radiofrequency interference (RFI) when occurring in the radiofrequency spectrum — refers to an electromagnetic disturbance caused by an electronic device interacting with another electronic device. Electromagnetic induction, electrostatic coupling, and conduction can all disrupt the electrical circuit of the affected device. EMI can cause major problems for a huge range of applications, and is becoming a greater concern in today’s increasingly connected world.
Ever wonder why wireless devices must be put on airplane mode or turned off during a flight? Electromagnetic waves emitted when using those devices can actually interfere with the plane’s navigation system.
As the use of technology and electronic devices continues to rise, the EMI shielding market is rapidly expanding. Government guidelines outlining EMI shielding requirements are also expected to shift. And as technology use increases, electronic devices are becoming smaller and smaller, and the use of Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth is becoming more and more common. Both of these trends — the miniaturization of devices and the increased use of wireless technologies — can contribute to EMI problems.
EMI SHIELDING MATERIALS
EMI shielding is extremely important in today’s ever-shifting landscape, and we’re proud to partner with Parker Chomerics, a leader in EMI shielding innovations offering a range of different of products including:
EMI SHIELDING GASKETS
EMI shielding gaskets from Parker Chomerics can eliminate all types of EMI gaps. Common applications include EMI window seals, grounding tabs, server face plates, panel seals, cover seals, and door seals.
EMI SHIELDED WINDOW
These windows not only guard against EMI, they also protect displays from scratches and breakage, and can withstand harsh conditions. EMI shielded windows can be used with the above-mentioned EMI shielding gaskets, as well. Common applications include electronics used in military and medical environments, instrument panels, and cabinets and racks.
METAL FOIL TAPES
Parker Chomerics offers a few different types of shielding tapes, available in aluminum, copper, tinned copper, nickel-plated, and, if appearance is a concern, embossed types. These tapes are perfect for EMI cable shielding, especially when dealing with surfaces that cannot be soldered.
EMI SHIELDING PAINTS
Paints are ideal for scenarios in which common EMI shielding products will not work, such as high-altitude environments. You would not want to wrap EMI shielding tape around an airplane, for example. Parker Chomerics offers a range of different paints to suit specific shielding applications, such as circuit boards, plastic enclosures, electrolytic platable plastic, aircraft airframes, and aluminum and composite.
ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTIVE ADHESIVE
Various types of adhesive are available from Parker Chomerics, all designed for use in applications requiring sturdy, conductive electrical bonds. Adhesives are often used to fill cracks in electrical boxes, poor-tolerance enclosures, and EMI vents and windows.
ELECTRICALLY CONDUCTIVE SEALANTS
Sealants are important for filling in gaps on electrical enclosures or electrical grounding. This is often required for man-portable electronics, military ground vehicles, and radar and communication systems.
EMI SOLUTIONS FROM ROBERT MCKEOWN CO.
Since 1937, Robert McGeown Co., Inc. has been providing clients across diverse industries with world-class engineered materials for the electronics industry. Specializing in application assistance for both new and existing product design, we can offer high-performance, tailored solutions for all types of shielding needs thanks to our state-of-the-art proto-fast design center. We also keep a bulk inventory, allowing us to provide customized materials even for low-volume orders.
To learn more about Parker Chomerics’ industry-leading EMI shielding solutions and discuss options for your unique application, request a quote today.