As more and more wireless devices populate our environment, electromagnetic interference (EMI) can cause disruptions ranging from the inconvenient to the catastrophic. In certain contexts, especially the critical systems in military, medical, aviation, and automotive, design standards around EMI are particularly stringent and require an extensive battery of lab tests to gain compliance.

It is not always possible for engineering teams to foresee all EMI issues at the prototype stage. The testing lab is often the first place that unwanted frequencies are discovered. Fortunately, there is a unique mitigation technique for both conducted and radiated emissions that can be introduced during this late phase of product development.

Why EMI Testing?

The primary purpose of EMI compliance testing is to verify new electronic products effectively attenuate potential interference that can affect the normal operation of surrounding electronic equipment — and vice versa: the prototype needs to function even when exposed to a wide range of environmental frequencies.

This testing is governed by various standards and regulations, including those set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Many mission-critical projects for both governmental and commercial systems follow the toughest military standards for interference, like those outlined in MIL-STD 461G and DO-160. These standards ensure a uniformity of testing procedures and performance benchmarks globally.

Risks of Inadequate EMI Mitigation

If EMI is not adequately mitigated, the consequences can be severe. Interference can cause malfunctions in other electronic systems, which is particularly dangerous in environments like hospitals, military vehicles, or aircraft where equipment failure is not an option. There can be significant safety hazards and threats to the long-term reliability of electronic devices, potentially leading to catastrophic system failures.

Long-Term Costs Associated with EMI Product Failure

When unwanted interference is discovered after a product is deployed in the field, the costs of EMI failure can be significant for manufacturers: repairs, replacements, or full-scale recalls.

Indirect costs may be even more substantial, including downtime, productivity loss, and the less quantifiable expense of reputational damage. Legal liabilities and penalties for non-compliance with industry standards can also lead to major financial and operational repercussions.

Immediate Costs to Product Development of Testing Failure

Comprehensive testing is an essential step to avoid the long-term costs of EMI-related product failure. But falling short of standards during the emissions testing process can lead to its own set of costs for product development.

When a device fails EMI tests, design teams may need to reschedule at lab facilities, pay additional fees, and dedicate more engineering resources to device modifications and re-work than expected in the budget. New prototypes may need to be fabricated, and the logistics associated with travel and procurement can inflate costs further.

Most critically, these issues can delay the development and production timeline, which can have a ripple effect on a product’s market success.

Circumvent Unexpected Testing Failures with EESeal® Filter Inserts

In some cases, traditional EMI mitigation measures, like component filters and shielding, may fall short of the benchmarks. During unexpected testing lab failure, EESeal filter inserts are a proven game-changer.

Miniaturized circuits embedded in silicone inserts that fit into standard connector types, EESeal filter solutions have proven effective in noise reduction and are remarkably easy to install – they require no redesign, no new prototype, and can be added on the fly during testing.

With Quell’s free 24-hour samples, engineers can mitigate while still at the testing facility, avoiding the costs of rescheduling.

With many filter variations capable of attenuating a wide range of frequencies, Quell offers a versatile solution that not only helps products pass compliance tests, but also serves as a durable, integrated part of a finished product.

Keep Your Timeline

Because the risks and costs associated with inadequate interference mitigation are so significant, compliance testing is a necessary hurdle that design teams need to clear for a viable product.

The strategy of using smart solutions like EESeal filter inserts, however, can keep your development timeline on track, no matter what unexpected noise is discovered in the testing lab.

To dampen spikes on the high end of the spectrum, try the enhanced  EESeal+®  which can offer effective radio frequency interference (RFI) suppression up to 100GHz.

Technicians at Quell are ready to build custom samples of whatever filter capability, pin count, or connector type you need within hours. Production quantities, too, can be obtained in days. If you experience a setback at the testing lab, our talented team is here to help.