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.