A global manufacturer of wireless routers specializes in ruggedized products that withstand water intrusion caused by extreme environmental conditions. During the initial year of installation, one of the products began having issues with water leaking into the enclosure, causing corrosion and performance issues with the electronic components.
The engineering team began a thorough root-cause analysis of the issue and determined that the leakage was due to failure of the enclosure’s seals. Rapid temperature changes in the outside environment created pressure differentials that resulted in a vacuum forming inside the router’s housing. The vacuum caused stress on the housing’s seals, which led to water vapor being drawn into the device. As the vapor condensed inside the device, the water had no path to escape, so it collected inside the sealed housing and eventually damaged the electronics. The engineers considered using more rugged seals to eliminate the water intrusion problem, but they realized that this would not solve the problem. They needed to provide a way to maintain equalized pressure inside the enclosure without creating a path for water and other contaminants to enter.
The engineering team settled on a microporous expanded polytetrafluoroethylene vent and evaluated samples of three venting products: GORE® Protective Vents, vents from a Taiwanese manufacturer and vents from a Chinese manufacturer. For each product the team assessed the construction, membrane appearance and test results. They determined that the Taiwanese and Chinese products could not match the reliability and durability of Gore’s technology. They determined that Gore’s vents last ten years or more, as proven by their third-party qualification reports, while the other vents needed to be replaced every four to five years. Therefore, the manufacturer selected GORE® Protective Vents because of their higher quality.
Gore’s application engineers collaborated with the manufacturer’s design team throughout the specification process to ensure that the right vent was selected for the manufacturer’s specific application. After testing various solutions, Gore recommended the Polyvent M12 x 1.5 HA – a high-airflow, screw-in vent for maximum pressure equalization and durability.
According to the wireless manufacturer’s lead engineer, Gore’s ongoing support enabled them to select a screw-in plastic vent that was easy to install during initial manufacturing and during retrofit repairs in the field. “Gore’s team understood the pressure differential issues we were experiencing, and the testing they performed in their own labs identified the appropriate amount of airflow we needed in our housing to maintain equalized pressure in all types of environments,” the engineer explained. “They even identified the appropriate torque and mounting specifications for installation so our production lines can easily integrate the GORE® Protective Vent. We converted to Gore’s solution in March 2011, and we have not had any performance issues since then.”
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