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Four Frequently Asked Questions on RFI Shielding

Nov 5th 2015 at 3:06 AM

Electronic gadgets generate electromagnetic waves that can hamper the functioning of other devices. This is known as Radio Frequency Interference (RFI). RFI may create issues such as signal suppression, generate emission that internally affect device functioning or external ambient obstruction that affect the performance of electronic equipment. Today we are using a plethora of electronic devices. Consequently, signals and waves keep hovering around us most of the time. This means RFI can lead to potential problems in any environment. Electronic devices that have sensitive circuits or elements can be damaged by the interference from devices like fluorescent lights, switches, electric motors and even integrated chips (ICs). Effective RFI shielding can help you prevent such interference so that your device can function properly.

Most of the times, RFI shielding is in the form of an acrylic-based spray and is applied to plastic electronic enclosures. Such pure metal components in the spray as silver, copper and nickel help in eliminating the RFI completely. Here are four quick facts you need to know about RFI shielding:

1. Why Should I Use RFI Coatings?

The primary reason of using RFI shielding coatings is to prevent electromagnetic interference. This will help your electronic devices to perform well. There are other benefits like point-to-point resistivity and practical attenuation, i.e. reduction of the strength of a signal causing the interference. Consequently, you’ll get outstanding shielding performance.

2. What are the Distinctive Characteristics of RFI Shielding Coatings?

Nickel: Nickel being a hard metal provides extreme durability. It is also cost-effective, and therefore the preferred choice of many. Its conductivity is approximately one ohm per square per mil. It provides 60-65 dB of protection to electronic equipment at about two mils, over 5-1,800 MHz. Nickel is not as good a conductor as silver and copper. However, it has the ability to absorb maximum electronic interference owing to its magnetic permeability.

Silver: Silver is known to have maximum conductivity. Due to its higher cost, this metal may not be used in all applications, except for the most demanding situations. It has an exceptional conductivity of 0.010 ohms per square per mil, and provides effective protection up to 10 GHz, above 75 dB.

Copper: Copper is the widely used material for RFI shielding purposes. With copper-based coatings, you can consider using silver-plated copper fillers. It will help in providing resistance to oxidation of the metal. As far as conductivity is concerned, the metal’s conductivity is more than that of graphite and nickel. Copper coatings of 0.075 to 0.10 ohms per square per mil provide effective protection of 75 dB to over one GHz.

3. What are the Common Items that Require RFI Coatings?

The products or items that need RFI shielding coatings include medical equipment such as x-ray machines, computers, electronic equipment used in the marine industry, mobile phones, radios, aerospace, military and highly-technical commercial products, and even process control items.

4. Why Outsource the RFI Shielding Process?

Outsourcing the process will prevent huge capital investment. All responsibilities and expenditures pertaining to a specific shielding job will be handed over to a vendor. Initiating or updating a coating process on your own means spending thousands of dollars. Moreover, when you outsource the entire RFI shielding process to a reputed vendor, you need not worry about the hassles of waste management, problems related to volatile organic compounds (VOC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.

Though RFI shielding is a wide subject, knowing the basics will give you a general idea about the process. Make sure that you use the right materials for coating purposes based on the benefits and features.

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