What is EMI/RFI Shielding & Why it is Important?

You might have heard that all electronics emit some waves or signals that can potentially interrupt the performance of another electronic product. So, what exactly these waves or signals are?

Every electronic device produces some electromagnetic waves, known as interferences that interrupt other electronics and may also damage the equipment. These electrical noise interferences are known as Electromagnetic interference (EMI). When referring to electrical noise, terms EMI and RFI are often used interchangeably. However, there’s a slight difference between these two. While EMI is used in the context of electrical noise, RFI is a term used for the radio frequency spectrum.

Both EMI and RFI can be generated inside a single product or externally from another device. Several sources are responsible for producing EMI/RFI that are both man-made and natural sources such as mobile phones, car ignition systems, thunderstorms, the northern lights, and televisions to name a few. These interferences are responsible for disrupting the performance of other electronic devices and result in equipment failure. So, to control the ingress and egress of these interferences, design engineers need to use shielding. Now, let’s take a look at EMI/RFI Shielding.

What is EMI/RFI Shielding?

To make sure that an electronic device doesn’t emit signals and it meets various EMI-RFI standards, engineers use shielding technique. When it’s not possible to eliminate EMI through, the best viable solution is to an EMI-RFI shielded enclosure. Various medical, military, and aerospace electronics that transmit signals need shielding.

EMI Shielding is the technique of protecting an electronic from external electromagnetic signals that disrupt its functioning. Shielding also helps in blocking its internal signal to prevent it from leaking out and interfering with surrounding electronics. In this method, a conductive material is applied to electronic enclosures in the form of a spray.

The concept of shielding is based on the principle of the Faraday cage. A metallic screen is installed to absorb electromagnetic interference. For shielding magnetic alloys that are highly permeable are used. Pure elements such as silver, copper, and nickel are best for shielding because of their ability to reflect electromagnetic radiation. However, a metallic box of highly conductive material is quite costly and not a cost-effective solution for design engineers. So, to minimize the cost engineers often spray EMI-RFI shielding agents on plastic enclosures.

Why EMI-RFI Shielding is Important?

The EMI/RFI Shielding is used across many industries. From the medical industry to the military, several electronic devices are used for performing various operations. A major consideration of every industry is to make sure that their equipment and devices work properly. When electronic devices stop working when they’re most needed, it can result in huge losses. So, to prevent electronics from malfunction, industries use EMI-RFI shielding. For instance, EMI/RFI Shielding is essential for the Telecomm industry to prevent incorrect frequencies from interfering with a device. Likewise, shielding protects medical equipment from interferences that can potentially damage the equipment and have a severe impact on the well-being of patients. In a nutshell, EMI/RFI shielding is used in every application that needs protection from electronic disturbance to prevent equipment failure and keep operations running at peak performance.

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