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Why Electronic Shielding is Crucial in Electronic or Electrical Devices

Electromagnetic Shielding is very crucial in electrical and electronic equipment. To achieve EMI shielding, engineers make use of manufacturing techniques and materials to prevent signals from any form of interruption by external electromagnetic signals. Also, EMI shielding involves preventing signals from disrupting surrounding components.

What is Electromagnetic Shielding?

Electromagnetic shielding involves the reduction or prevention of the electromagnetic field (EMF) in a space with the help of barriers that comprise conductive or magnetic material. Also, electromagnetic shielding prevents radio frequency (RF) shielding.

EMF shielding helps in reducing electromagnetic interference. Also, this shielding can minimize the coupling of electrostatic fields, radio waves, and electromagnetic fields. The Faraday cage is a conductive enclosure that block  electrostatic fields. However, the type of material used, the shielded volume’s size, and the thickness of the material determine the amount of reduction.

Anytime there is a flow of electricity in a conductor, there is the generation of a magnetic field. The generated magnetic field has a relationship with the amount of power being discharged. Therefore,  devices that need power like transformers and motors will generate fluctuating fields. Also, motors usually come with electromagnetic field. To keep these fields running, they switch at high frequencies.

This is considered a suitable method of generating interference. EMI is the negative impact of these electromagnetic fields on other devices. Also, the interference generates as the fluctuating field traverses their connecting cables. For every traverse, there is a voltage induction which may be small. However, data processing devices need very low voltages to function and the triggered voltages are large. This can corrupt output and input signals.

Why is EMI Shielding Important?

EMI-shield-PCB

Electronic devices and systems can be affected by EMI. For instance, electrical or electronic devices used in mission-critical applications like military aerospace, medicine, and industry need ultimate protection from electromagnetic interference.  There are several causes of EMI and this come from natural and man-made sources.

It is crucial for engineers to understand how electromagnetic energy (EME) can result in interference and how EMI protection works. Understanding the basic EMI awareness helps you design gaskets that offer a good amount of shielding against electromagnetic field in the (RF) spectrum. Radiofrequency waves usually form the basis of radio technology. However, they transfer signals that interrupt with wireless communications.

There are several reasons engineers conduct electromagnetic shielding. However, most common reason is to block electromagnetic interference (EMI) from having an effect on sensitive electronics. Furthermore, engineers use metallic mesh shields to shield one component from having an impact on the inside another particular device.

For instance, there is a metallic shield in a smartphone which shields electronics from its cellular transmitter or receiver. Also, electromagnetic radiation shields help to reduce the amount of radio frequency (RF) energy in mobile phones. The user that might absorb the RF if there are no electromagnetic radiation shields.

Furthermore, engineers recommend EMI shielding to improve the security of air gapped systems. Lack of external connectivity and isolation and are enough to ensure their security. However, evidence has shown that there can be acoustical infection by exploiting the electromagnetic emanations of the sound card of the system. Electromagnetic energy, shielding radio frequencies, external magnetic field, and low frequency magnetic fields are factors to consider in EMI shielding.

The government, military, and financial sectors make use of air grapping. Also, human rights organizations, reporters, and activists that work with very sensitive information adopt these measures.

More Facts about EMI Shielding

There are various techniques and materials used for EM shielding. In some cases, a braid shield or metallic foil may surround wires. This helps in blocking errant EMI from the cased wires. In audio speakers, there is an inner metallic enclosure for blocking EMI generated by the drivers so they don’t have a negative impact on TVs and other electronic devices. It isn’t necessary to use complete continuous enclosure if the openings are much smaller than the electromagnetic waves that need blocking.

Engineers can make use of conductive paints to prevent the electromagnetic fields from networks that escape the originating business. These techniques work in a similar way with Faraday cage, which can stop signal corruption that makes electronics to malfunction.

Also, electronics may feature connections filtered for EMI. The integration of electronic components such as ferrules, grounded wires, and capacitors can reduce the impact of EMI noise. Also, you can minimize interference by simply twisting wires together

EMI Shielding Gaskets

An EMI shielding gasket shields electronic devices from electromagnetic interference. In typical cases , EMI shields components comprise sheets and are available in different shapes that fit electronic enclosures or casings. Commonly used materials include copper, aluminum, and steel. These materials are very sturdy and rigid. However, thin metal sheets have the ability to deform when under the pressures needed for sealing. Metal EMI shields usually remain in their shape once they become deformed. As a result, they may enable leakage to and from electronic circuits.                                                 

Common EMI shielding materials used today include metal foams, flexible metal screens, and metal wires.  Also, you can apply coatings that comprise metallic inks to the internal parts of electronic enclosures. This offers great EMI shielding solution.

Each shielding methods has its own benefits.  However, particle-filled silicone is an effective shielding material has it features the physical properties of silicone rubber and the electrical properties of metal. Metal-coated particles are a great option for product designers who need to offer solutions to various sealing and insulation challenges.  Also, silicone filled with metal  is a good option.

Particle filled silicones offer electrical conductivity, allow environmental sealing in varying temperatures, and as well attenuate EMI emissions. Due to these benefits, ruggedized touchscreens integrate EMI gaskets made of particle-filled silicones. Such EMI shielding gaskets prevent the device from any form of mechanical shock and it is usually soft enough to prevent any interference with the display’s touch function.

The cost of EMI shielding materials is crucial considerations for gasket designers in a wide range of industries.

Conductive Silicones

In some applications, particle-filled silicones are a great option, especially demanding applications. However, the question is that can these conductive elastomers meet the demands of your application? Or are EMI shielding gaskets made of conductive silicones a cost-effective option?

Well, Silicone is a type of material that can withstand water, sunlight, water, and various degrees of temperatures. However, when particle-filled silicone contains more metal particles, they can have negative effect. This is a major reason some gasket designers may reject particle filled silicone that seem too soft or too hard.

Some engineers complained about the limitations of part size as regards long lead times for materials and mold dimensions. Furthermore, a god number of industry experts also claim that all particle-filled silicones can’t support thinner electronic designs since they are too thick. Also, the cost of particle-filled products is another consideration as this discouraged their use.

Silver-aluminum was the commonly used filler material for protecting silicones for several years.  The development of the MIL-DTL-83528 specification of the U. S military contributed to the particle. However, things changed in 2011 when silver cost almost $50 per Troy ounce. The fact that many gasket prints and drawings had these elastomers specified on them became a problem. EMI gaskets that comprise silicones were even more expensive.

Electronic designers now have a cost-effective alternative particle fills that provides very strong EMI protection. Silver-copper and silver-glass are also commonly used. Today, nickel-graphite silicones which are a cost-effective material function at the shielding level of silver-aluminum. According to MIL-DTL-83528, these nickel-graphite silicones meet the requirements for effectiveness of EMI shielding effectiveness. At RF frequencies that range between 20 and 10,000 Hz, the MIL-DTL-83528 requirement establishes a minimum EMI shielding effectiveness of 100 dB.

Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Materials

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Innovation in silicone compounding has turned things around for good. Particle-filled elastomers can now meet the requirements of shielding and as well as other project specifications. For instance, nickel-graphite silicones are soft enough for gaskets since these silicones are available in 45, 40, and 30 durometer. Higher-durometer shielding elastomers can withstand chemicals and fuels. These Elastomers integrate  fluorosilicone as their base. Also, these fluorosilicone compounds are usually available in durometers of 50, 60, and 80 for applications that need EMI gaskets.

Newer shielding materials usually comprise metal filler enough to provide electrical conductivity and effective EMI shielding. This is not the case for older shielding elastomers.  Additionally, these conductive silicones enable cost-effective and efficient fabrication.

Particle-filled silicones can’t be deformed or stretched when cutting gasket. The structural properties of the material offer improved tear resistance and there connector holes are well aligned. Improved tear resistance is crucial factor to consider when it comes to thinner wall gaskets. Also, product designers can give specification on adhesive backing to enable easy installation.

To achieve great shielding effectiveness, particle-filled silicones are ideal for use with electrically-conductive adhesives. This is crucial where Z-axis conductivity is necessary in shielding applications. Also, there are different types of higher-durometer, nickel-graphite silicones available. However, some EMI gasket applications demand for added strength. This is the reason EMI materials feature products like 65-durometer elastomer with an inner nickel-coated mesh.

You can reinforce lower-durometer, nickel-graphite silicones using an inner layer of conductive fabric for improved conductivity and material strength. Therefore, this prevents tearing and brittleness while fabricating EMI gasket. Conductive or magnetic materials are ideal for electromagnetic shielding.

Types of Electromagnetic Interferences

In our modern environment, EMI is very common. There are two major sources of EMI. These are natural and human made source. However, there are several classifications of EMI. Here, we classified EMI in several ways.

Human made EMI

This type of EMI happens from electronic device. Also, human made EMI occurs when several signals go through one device at similar frequencies. For instance, a radio simultaneously picking up two different stations.

Natural EMI

Natural EMI also affects electronic devices. This EMI is considered natural because they are not human-made. It occurs due to natural phenomena on space and earth. Natural phenomenon such as cosmic noise and electric storms are responsible for this EMI.

The second classification is based on EMI duration. The duration here refers to the time it takes the device to experience interference.

Continuous EMI

Continuous EMI occurs when a source keeps emitting EMI. Also, the EMI  source can either be natural or man-made. This EMI occurs as a long coupling mechanism and it usually exists between the source of and receiver. Also, continuous EMI usually occurs from sources such as a circuit that generates a continuous signal.

Impulse EMI

Impulse EMI is not continuous, they only occur for a very short period. The source of this EMI can be natural or human-made. Examples include noise from lighting and switches which generate signals that could disturb the voltage and current.

The third classification of EMI is simply based EMI’s bandwidth. The bandwidth of EMI is the frequency range the EMI experienced. Therefore, EMI is into two types based on this. These are Narrowband and Broadband EMI.

Narrowband EMI

Narrowband EMI happens at a single frequency. Also, different types of distortion in a transmitter can cause narrowband EMI. Narrowband EMI plays a minor role in the communication system and it is easy to correct this type of EMI. However, it is crucial to control the limit of interference in limits.

Broadband EMI

Broadband EMI doesn’t occur at a single frequency. As regards a magnetic spectrum, broadband EMI covers a wide spectrum. Also, it occurs in different forms. The source of broadband EMI can be man-made or natural. An example of a human-made source is spark that emits from an arc welding.  Sun-outs for a satellite TV system is a good example of a natural source.

How to Reduce EMI

EMI commonly occurs in industries and it results in an adverse effect on signals. A few sources of EMI from industries include Power contacts,  Variable frequency drives, AC and DC motors, Soft start motor starters, Power wiring, SCR heater controllers, arc welding, and more. Therefore, there is a great need to prevent or reduce EMI. Otherwise, EMI will degrade crucial measurement and control signals.

There are three main elements that cause EMI noise. This include a coupling channel between receiver and a source, noise source that produces noise, and receiving device that impacted by noise. Engineers can achieve electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) if they can minimize or eliminate any of these elements. Also, you need to apply very few techniques to get rid of EMI.

Shielding

Shielding is one of the most common techniques of eliminating or reducing EMI. There are a wide range of factors that contribute to EMI. However, there are several ways to reduce EMI. Shielding is one of the most effective ways to combat EMI is through shielding.  Also, shielding is a method that involves reducing and controlling the coupling of electrostatic fields and radio waves.

EMI shield is usually implemented to protect electrical devices from external factors and to separate wires from the environment. Also, there are three main factors that determine the shielding effectiveness. These factors include multiple reflections, absorption, and reflections.

Shielded cables are electrical cables that have insulating conductors enclosed in a conductive layer. The shield can comprise strands of a spiral tape, conducting polymer or braided copper. Also, shielded cables are usually more rigorous and thicker than those that aren’t shielded.  Also, they need more extensive care when working with them.

Unshielded cables can’t reduce EMI since they do not have internal shielding. These cables use a pair of twisted wires to get rid of EMI. Also, these cables are very thin, which makes them the best option for indoor applications in an office.

Shielded cables are usually much thicker than unshielded ones. Also, these cables also need more extensive care.

Earth ground

The ground systems usually carry return currents and signals. Also, they create the references for both digital and analog circuits. Therefore, they protect equipment and humans from lightning and fault. Furthermore, flow of current in the grounding system results in the possible differences.

Lightning causes a possible difference in volts when it strikes. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the ground system from when circuit design begins. Engineers should consider the ground system in such a way that it functions with safety requirements. It is crucial to be sure of where the current will pass through whenever you are troubleshooting a ground problem.

Also, the current might likely not return to the path when different grounds coincide. Furthermore, there are several factors that determine proper grounding. These factors include the impedances and frequencies, safety issues, and the length of cabling required.  

The single-point ground is the most beneficial ground type for low-frequency applications. When there is sensitive circuitry or cabling, avoid the daisy chain or series connection. This is because there is a flow of return currents from three circuits via common ground impedances. Carrier material loaded

Conclusion

Electromagnetic Shielding is very crucial in electrical and electronic equipment. To achieve EMI shielding, engineers make use of manufacturing techniques and materials to prevent signals from any form of interruption by external electromagnetic signals. Also, EMI shielding involves preventing signals from disrupting surrounding components.