When electronics manufacturers face unexpected EMI issues, there are generally two roads they can go down. Go back to the drawing board to redesign the circuit and casing of the product to remove unwanted interference, or keep the devices already produced largely intact but with a small modification — a retrofit.

This post examines the cost considerations for both routes and the reasons most manufacturers favor a retrofit solution when possible. Since a good retrofit does not need to drastically alter the product, it can keep your original design on track in the face of EMI compliance failures.

Complications from Interference

When do electronics manufacturers face EMI issues? The most common scenario is receiving bad news from the testing lab that is investigating a prototype to gain initial compliance. That is not always the case, since EMI issues can also arise from:

  • Outdated products that do not meet new regulatory standards.
  • User feedback about a product already in the field uncovers conducted emission (CE) interference or shows effects of received emissions (RE) from nearby devices.
  • An existing product entering a new operating environment. For instance, a helicopter is reassigned to a different installation.

The scenarios above describe EMI issues after product deployment. This implies a significant quantity of deployed products to either fix or replace. In these cases, manufacturers choosing redesign would undergo a more complicated and more costly recall and replacement process.

Costs of Redesign, Recall, and Replacement

If a fielded product is deemed problematic due to EMI, manufacturers then have three sets of costs to worry about.

First, the cost of shipping product or moving technicians to the site of the deployment to trade out components. Second, the replacement costs of manufacturing a large quantity of new electronic components or other parts. Lastly, there remains the engineering cost of troubleshooting the problem, devising a new solution, prototyping, and retesting.

We could also tack on the cost of legal penalties and the significant administrative effort involved in fixing in-the-field EMI failures.

Finding a Retrofit Alternative

Given the massive drainage of resources a recall and/or redesign might present, manufacturers might jump at any opportunity to investigate a retrofit solution that would eliminate interference issues without having to revise board layouts.

Fortunately, a retrofit alternative does exist that significantly attenuates emissions for a wide range of targeted frequencies. If you are yet unfamiliar with it, it may be difficult to fathom.

Adding an EESeal® EMI filter insert into a standard connector used with your project allows you to:

  • Keep internal board designs unchanged
  • Have the retrofit installed in seconds, without solder or tools, by non-technical personnel
  • See results from different retrofit filter inserts while still at the testing center
  • Modulate interference profiles at several frequency ranges
  • Test the suitability of a retrofit solution for free

The Quickest Way to Change a Circuit Design for EMC

The difference presented here could not be starker:

Choosing to perform a recall, mass replacement, and engineering redesign might total millions to tens of millions of dollars.

Choosing a retrofit using silicone filter inserts that essentially change the electromagnetic profile of every device in operation might cost a few thousand dollars.

How does the EESeal retrofit solution work to dampen EMI?

The filter insert adds an application-specific custom circuit directly at the connector interface, where it is needed most to mitigate any unwanted noise.

Miniature passive components and wiring traces are embedded in a silicone insert that slides over the pins of a standard circular or D-sub connector. As the filter-circuit connects with the pin, it essentially expands the circuit of the product design to add filtering capabilities at your target frequencies.

The filter inserts secure to the connector pins without solder yet remain mechanically and electrically sound even through a lifetime of harsh environment exposure. EESeal inserts keep performing through vehicular, system platform, or altitude vibrations, temperature fluctuation, and immersion in liquids.

If you’re a manufacturer facing EMI complications, it might seem like a dream come true. The interference issues of your product entirely disappear. Your product passes compliance testing without a single change to its PCB or its casing.

Amazing Results in Noise Reduction

There may be a misperception among those unfamiliar with EESeal solutions.

They might think, “microscopic passive components embedded on a silicone disc the size of a quarter dollar? Pretty small stuff. So, sure, they might be good at filtering out a little noise on small consumer-sized devices. But these inserts wouldn’t possibly help pass compliance testing for an enormous system like an aircraft, or a guided-missile weapons system, or an industrial-sized robotic arm.”

Herein is where in the inaccuracy lies.

In practice, retrofit solutions via EESeal filter inserts have solved many EMI issues for electronic systems of large scale. It is true that one small disc can alleviate a massive headache.

Silicone solutions from Quell address frequencies up and down the spectrum from 100kHz to 100GHz. The range typically under the umbrella of “EMI” are mitigated by the custom EESeal line.

Connector inserts also extend to other types of noise reduction and post hoc mitigation strategies. Quell gaskets work in a similar way to add grounding to existing devices. Quell ESD filter inserts focus on electrostatic discharge (ESD) and transient protection. If a product needs additional radio-frequency interference (RFI) suppression, the EESeal+® product line can address the high end of the spectrum.

Try a Retrofit Before a Redesign

Since trying out a retrofit solution from Quell is risk-free and cost-free, manufacturers should explore this option before embarking on a potentially costly redesign process.

Free samples can be custom-made to address problem frequencies, then rush-delivered within just 24-48 hours, quick enough to make a modification while still at the lab testing center.

Since EESeal EMI filter inserts meet the durability and longevity requirements for military-grade equipment, commercial designers can be assured that retrofits will last through the lifespan of their products as well.

Besides retrofitting, EESeal is an excellent choice to incorporate in the initial design stage as well.

How can it help your product? Contact Quell to get started.