Electromagnetic Compatibility or EMC is assuming increasing importance in today’s device intensive world. This means, question of radiation and interference to critical electronic equipment or their components is more of a risk today than it ever was. Another important fact to consider is that a number of devices that can malfunction with electromagnetic radiation operate in highly sensitive environments. Airplane cockpits and hospitals are just two examples where any interference to such equipment can result in some serious risk to human lives. There is little doubt that a comprehensive knowledge of EMC is absolutely essential for manufacturers and designers of products with components that cause such interference or that can be impacted by it. Equally important is the knowledge of how a shielded enclosure can safeguard their product and the environment where it will work.
Factoring in EMC at Product Design and Development Stage
It is critical to consider EMC right from the stage when the product is on the drawing board. At this stage, many designers and manufacturers tend to pay attention mainly to the physical attributes and the functionality of the final product. But, will it perform efficiently when deployed in its environment? Will other devices impair its functioning? Or, will it disrupt the working of other devices?
For example, consider a wireless, remote-controlled light that is ideal for operating room conditions. If this product emits electromagnetic interference (EMI) that causes critical life support equipment or vital signs monitoring equipment to falter, no surgeon would be willing to risk giving it a trial at his hospital. Considering these factors at the design and development stage can save the manufacturer money, time and production costs while ensuring that the result is a safe and viable product.
Choosing the Shielding Material and Type with Care
Electromagnetic shielding is often done with the dual objective of blocking both EMI and RFI (radio frequency interference).- A number of materials, mainly metals, are used commonly for this purpose. For example, you may find copper, aluminum, nickel or steel alloy in a shielded enclosure. While all of these are effective, many manufacturers believe that an alloy made from nickel, copper, iron and molybdenum offers the most effective shielding.
The manner in which these metals are used is also important and there are differences in this aspect too. Some use solid sheets, while others prefer perforated sheets. Coatings and screens of EMI resistant materials are also quite common. The type of material to use and the form in which it is used are both factors you should consider well before the product reaches the final production stage. You should test a prototype of the EMI shielded product in actual working conditions to verify that the shielding is holding up as expected, before the product goes out in the market.
The variety and range of shielded enclosure options make it easy for you to find the perfect one for your product. Make sure to invest your resources in this task at the right time in your production cycle and you can have a truly successful product on your hands.