Composite enclosures are growing popular of late and are gradually replacing conventional metal casings. They offer numerous benefits in terms of weight reduction, lower designing costs, and resistance to corrosion. We know that composites are used in the defense and aerospace industry for their new material formulations and enhanced performance abilities, making composite electronic enclosures the preferred choice for EMI shielding. Even when you replace metal with composites, the latter offers all the electrical and mechanical benefits of metal enclosures. A composite enclosure consists of a highly engineered and high-performance plastic polymer together with a filler material that improves structural integrity and leaves scope for parameter modifications. You get the best combination of electrical, mechanical, weight, and environmental performance of composite enclosures in a particular application. You can choose from fillers such as glass fibers and different carbon varieties like microspheres and fibers. Read on to understand the reasons for the growing popularity of composite enclosures.
When it comes to metal enclosures, they protect your electronic devices from unwanted interference by reflecting energy. It is beneficial when electromagnetic energy is radiated from the outside. However, when the emissions originate from within the enclosure and are emitted by the electronic device, the unwanted energy is reflected back into the device instead of being eliminated. This is where the importance of composite enclosures comes into play, which helps in reflecting and absorbing the interference to protect your devices and applications. When harmful radiations are emitted from the internal electronics, it is absorbed and finally degenerated in the composite enclosure. You can plate them easily with copper, gold, electroless nickel, or any other combination that your EMI shielding supplier deems fit.
Composite enclosures are used in satellite and aircraft applications because they are known for weight reduction. Even a few pounds saved means a considerable reduction in weight and enhanced performance. Weight savings will make fighter jet aircraft attain improved fuel economy and carry more arms and weapons. In defense and satellite applications, weight reduction will save thousands of dollars, thus reducing launching outlays. A composite electronic enclosure will weigh 40 percent and 80 percent less than aluminum and steel composites respectively. And the integration of hollow microspheres will lead to additional weight reduction for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), soldier systems, and other aircraft applications, where every pound saved matters. UAVs will also fly longer than usual provided they have composite enclosures.
Do you know what the major problem with most metals is? They are not resistant to corrosion. Though aluminum is corrosion-resistant due to a resistance oxide buildup, the metal develops as a galvanic cell with other metals like copper and steel. It leads to a significant loss of aluminum if the metal lacks a protective coating. You will not find coatings like cadmium because it is poisonous and dangerous to use. Composite enclosures, on the contrary, are resistant to corrosion and immune to deterioration or damage. In fact, composites are galvanically compatible with standard mounting hardware and aircraft structures. They have the capability to function under varying temperatures, as well as are resistant to harsh solvents and chemicals.
Use composite materials because they are sturdy and customizable to provide outstanding tensile strength, impact, and bending resistance. They are indeed sturdier than aluminum materials because composites cannot be easily deformed or damaged. Since operating temperatures affect composite properties, you should have a sound knowledge and understanding of temperature variations that the material may be subjected to.
Choose composite electronic enclosures after consulting with your supplier so that you can match your application requirements with the material formulation. You may not get the single best one, but it is always possible to find the perfect balance of EMI protection, material strength, MID properties, and thermal management.