Rubber Gasket Seals in Electronic Assemblies: What are they?

19 July 2016

When sophisticated electronic modules are housed in dry control rooms, we know the gear is safe. Of course, sensitive circuits do exist outside of this refuge. It’s this scenario that causes our designers concern, for microchips can’t abide harsh environments. Thankfully, we can reinforce plainly fastened electronic’s housings with rubber gasket seals in electronic assemblies. Here’s how this is done.

Rubber Gasket Seals in Electronic Assemblies

If a box full of electronic circuitry is to be mounted in an environmentally challenging locale, a standardized enclosure won’t work. Even if we’re just referring to a regular outdoor setting, rainwater would eventually work its way into the box and destroy the microcircuitry. Instead, we use a rugged enclosure and outfit it with strong rubber gaskets. The lid is sealed with this gasket, as are the egress points where the wiring enters the box.

The Sealing of Submerged Electronics

The next wet environment is far more challenging. Imagine a pump or sensor package located down a deep well. The digital innards inside the pump measure the depth of the water. Meanwhile, the sensors conduct a test on the chemical components suspended in that water. Other electronic devices sink below the water line to work on marine vessels. Submerged as these housings are, they need to be rated to handle water pressure and turbulence. Temperature changes may be part of this environment, which would certainly be the case in a steamy boiler room, so the seals also need to compress without experiencing the expansion/contraction effects we associate with certain polymers.

The science of Ingress Protection

Electronic assemblies use these special enclosures to guarantee dry operability. The tiny currents running through the fine tracks work in concert with microprocessors and digital processing subsystems to monitor tiny changes within massive mechanical assemblies. The IP rating ensures these circuits are fully segregated from the chaos that’s going on outside. Please refer to this resource for more information on the critically important international IP Rating standard. Basically, the first number describes dust protection, while the second digit relates to liquids. Scaling from 1-through-8, an IP88 rating would be fully dustproof and waterproof, thus ready for installation in an abrasive quarry or a submerged environment.

The polymers used in these applications must conform to the housing, the access panel, and any gaps where wiring is to be routed. Additionally, rubber gasket seals in electronic assemblies must be fabricated so that they compress uniformly without giving into moisture, temperature extremes, or harmful chemicals.

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