Hermetic Sealing Technology


Read about news, technical breakthroughs and design best practices related to hermetically sealed wire feedthroughs and hermetic connectors.

Designing With CircuitSeal—Part Two

Incorporating sensing elements into sealed electrical assemblies

One defining characteristic of CircuitSeal™ technology is its design flexibility. Not only can CircuitSeal work with many different types of circuit boards, but it can also integrate related electrical components to create a fully-functional, hermetically sealed electronics assembly. One such component is a sensing element.

 

 

CircuitSeal assemblies routinely incorporate a sensing and signal conditioning elements of one type or another. Using epoxy, we can directly seal around pressure, temperature, humidity, proximity and other types of sensors in addition to capacitors, resistors, switches and other signal conditioning components. A complete CircuitSeal sensing assembly would also include a circuit board, wire harness, and a fitting or housing. 

The resulting sensing assemblies offer many advantages:

  • Improved Reliability. In harsh environments, sensor assemblies can have a very short working life. CircuitSeal can protect the sensing electronics from moisture, chemicals, excess pressure, thermal expansion, shock and vibration. CircuitSeal’s sealing performance is fully hermetic, with leak rates below 1x10-8 cc-He/sec.
  • Reduced Size, Better Fit, Less Weight. CircuitSeal sensing assemblies are compact. They allow creative packaging of the sensing element and its circuit board to save space. In one recent assembly, for example, we packaged a humidity sensor and a long, thin circuit into a small threaded fitting. In general, CircuitSeal sensing assemblies are typically at least 30% smaller than conventional wire and cable sealed sensing assemblies.  However, as conductor count increases so will space savings.
  • Lower Cost. CircuitSeal sensing assemblies also cost less to produce, install and replace than sensing assemblies with a separate wire feedthrough. Typical cost reduction figures can vary, but it’s not uncommon to reduce costs by 50% or more in sensor applications.
  • Minimized Connection Points. By integrating signal conditioning and sensing into the hermetic feedthrough customers have seen an overall reduction in required cable harnesses which can further reduce complexity, cost and size.

The applications for sealed circuit assemblies obviously involve the use of a sensing element in vacuum or pressure chambers of one kind or another. Many CircuitSeal sensing assemblies have historically gone to work in space simulation or semiconductor equipment but applications continue to expand with frequent use in military applications. Increasingly, though, these sensing assemblies are also finding a home in vacuum applications where signal conditioning elements prone to outgassing need to be sealed inside epoxy to protect costly semiconductor wafers from contamination.

To learn more about CircuitSeal sensing assemblies, download our white paper.

 

Download The White Paper

 

Designing With CircuitSeal—Part One

If you design electrical equipment or devices, you increasingly have to tackle three related engineering problems. Not only do you have to improve the performance of your electrical systems, but you also have to reduce their size and cost.  One technology that can help with all three problems is CircuitSeal™.

 

 

Using our proven epoxy formulations, CircuitSeal creates direct hermetic seals around flex, rigid, and hybrid circuit boards as well as flat flex cables (FFC).  The technology also allows you to incorporate passive electrical components into the sealed circuit assembly—such as filters, fuses and resistors.  And CircuitSeal complements our other epoxy-based hermetic sealing methods. For instance, you can combine CircuitSeal with back-potted connectors.  Or you can design hybrid hermetic seals that directly seal around both circuit boards and wires or other conductors.

Whenever you need your electrical systems to function reliably in pressurized, vacuum, moisture-prone or other kinds of harsh environments, CircuitSeal can play a role.  Typical applications include:  

  • Semiconductor manufacturing equipment
  • Instrumentation and control systems
  • Automotive control and sensing systems
  • Magnetic bearings systems, including compressors, turbo expanders, flywheels and turbines
  • Environmental and vacuum chambers, including thermovac, vacuum heat treat and HAST systems
  • Military weapon and transport systems
  • Sealed-off laser systems

Compared to traditional feedthroughs and connectorized wire harnesses, which are still more widespread, CircuitSeal offers some significant advantages:

  • Improved Performance.  With signal conductors running directly to the circuit board, CircuitSeal helps maintain signal integrity while eliminating any losses or electrical noise (EMI) related to connectors.  Directly sealing the circuit board also does away with potential failure points at the electrical connection.
  • Compact Size.  CircuitSeal doesn’t just remove the need for bulky connectors; it also saves space by facilitating high conductor densities and the integration of electrical components into one sealed assembly.   Depending on the application requirements, CircuitSeal assemblies are typically 30 to 70% smaller than a comparable connector-based solution.
  • Enhanced protection from outgassing.  A variety of sensors, switches, diodes and capacitors are increasingly being potted in epoxy as part of the CircuitSeal process.  Potting and hermetically sealing these passive components effectively blocks contamination due to outgassing, which benefits semiconductor and vacuum applications.
  • Cost Reduction.  By integrating some components and eliminating others, CircuitSeal can reduce cost substantially. The amount of the savings varies but generally increases with conductor count and production volumes.  For example, we've produced CircuitSeal assemblies with high conductor counts that cost 80% less than an equivalent connectorized wire harness.

In an upcoming series of blog posts, we’ll take a deeper dive into CircuitSeal’s technical capabilities and offer up some design tips that you can easily apply to your electrical assemblies.  Sign up below, and we’ll send you the new posts as they become available.


Send me CircuitSeal updates:

 

Lean Update: Miniaturizing Our Work Cells

Since implementing lean manufacturing principles, a topic we explore in our latest white paper, we’ve been able to improve the efficiency of our factory—making gains in safety, quality and productivity. Building on what we learned, we continue to look for new ways to eliminate non-value added tasks, which eat up unnecessary time, materials, labor and floor space.

This summer, we tackled floor space issues, increasing efficiency by making our manufacturing cells even smaller. Here’s how we did it.

The Kaizen-Based Process

Our company has been growing, which means we need more space for new products and equipment. Having smaller manufacturing cells has enabled us to add more cells to our factory floor. And by leaning out existing cells, we’ve been able to streamline the movement of people and equipment during the manufacturing process, leading to productivity gains.

Over the summer, we held kaizen events to help us brainstorm, design and implement these new cells. (You can read more about kaizen, a lean organizational philosophy, in our white paper here.) During these events, we tasked teams of people from across the organization with making existing cells smaller, as well as designing new ones entirely. These teams were made up of the people who performed the physical work within the cell, as well as supervisors, engineers and salespeople.

From Spaghetti Map To Completed Cell

We started by drawing “spaghetti maps,” which capture the current flow of the product from start to finish, including the motion of all people and equipment involved in that process. We looked at factors like length of travel, as well as the number of times the product crossed over its original path. Having too much crossover means the product can potentially confuse a worker or obstruct another part of the process, increasing the risk of quality errors.



Next, after mapping out the product in its current state, we drew a revised spaghetti map, making changes to the product’s flow as needed. As much as possible, we sought to keep the product moving forward while minimizing crossover and travel distance. We built and modified manufacturing cells based on these revised maps—a process that takes about two days per cell.

Re-evaluate legacy equipment

Another key aspect of reducing the size of our cells involved a re-evaluation of our equipment to see which pieces really fit our lean approach to manufacturing. Consider, for example, the ovens we use to cure epoxy.

Decades ago, we standardized on large industrial ovens for all of our work cells.  Readily available and able to operate for extended periods with little maintanence, these ovens were a good choice at the time. But with their 36-inch-wide racks, they were optimized for large batch processing.  When we moved to one-piece-flow manufacuting, we found we were only using 25-50% of the rack space.

So we switched to smaller ovens with 16-inch racks. The new ovens not only contributed to the reduced footprint of our work centers, they were also far better utilized and more efficient in our lean manufacturing system.

There was certainly some short-term pain from scrapping our legacy ovens, but the long-term efficiency gains made the switch more than worthwhile.

Results

Since the summer, we’ve been able to reduce the square footage of many of our manufacturing cells from 275 to 140-180 square feet. We’ve already seen many benefits from the reduction, including:

  • Savings in power consumption
  • 30% increase in productivity
  • Ergonomic improvements
  • Opportunities to use smaller, less expensive equipment

Click for larger view

To learn more about lean in our job shop, download our latest white paper.

Download The White Paper

New White Paper Explores Applying Lean To The Job Shop

Lean production is one of the most important manufacturing strategies to emerge in the last century. By minimizing waste, which is considered anything that doesn’t provide value in the manufacturing process, lean improves efficiency without sacrificing productivity, enabling you to deliver higher quality products to your customers at lower costs.

 

 

A perceived issue with lean is that it’s typically thought to work best in high-volume, low-mix settings. And while it’s true that lean does have its roots in these kinds of operations, the idea that it can’t be applied to other types of processes is a misconception. With the right strategy and planning, lean can be used in other manufacturing environments, including job shops that have a high-mix of products at relatively lower volumes.

Since 2008, we’ve applied lean to our manufacturing operation. It’s now a pervasive force in improving the efficiency of our factory and provides our customers with several benefits, including:

Speed to market. Using Standardized WOrk Instructions (SWI), we can design and deploy manufacturing cells for individual products within a few days of receiving a customer order. As a result of our faster manufacturing process, our customers get to market more quickly.

Manufacturing at scale. Lean makes it cost-efficient to produce goods at relatively low volumes. As products scale to higher volumes, we can seamlessly scale the size of our manufacturing lines. Moving from product prototype to low-volume production to high-volume production becomes a cost-efficient and friction-free process.

Higher product quality and yields. Thanks to single-piece flow, quality issues that arise on the production line are no longer hidden: once a problem is identified, steps are taken to strengthen the process and prevent the mishap from occurring again. As a result, higher quality products can be manufactured in higher quantities and at faster speeds—while at the same time, reducing rework costs.

To learn more about how we implemented lean in our job shop, download our latest white paper.

 

Download The White Paper

More Articles ...

Page 1 of 5

JoomShaper