5G infrastructure. Wireless charging stations. Internet of things (IoT). Autonomous vehicles. Drones and digital cockpits. These are just a few exciting trends in electronics. What is one challenge these devices have in common? They all could be prone to electromagnetic interference (EMI).
The good news is that there’s a simple and cost-effective solution to this common issue – electrically conductive tapes. In fact, the market for EMI/RFI shielding is expected to grow 6.5% and reach $278B by 2026 (Source: Merkle & Sears). More importantly, electrically conductive tapes can help product designers create smaller, more powerful, and more reliable devices.
In this article, we cover the basics of electrically conductive tapes for EMI shielding and other applications.
Difference between EMI, EMS, and EMC
First, let’s quickly look at the overall electromagnetic environment because there are several terms and acronyms that need to be understood.
- Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) – EMI is the problem that we’re trying to solve, which is noise or interference that can hinder the performance or operation of electronics. EMI can be natural noise from electrostatic discharge or lighting, or it can be artificial from contact, high-frequency leaking, or unwanted emissions.
- Electromagnetic Susceptibility (EMS) – EMS is the degree that electronics (namely, sensitive analog circuits and sensors) are impacted by electromagnetic interference. In other words, these are the victims of EMI.
- Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) – This is the desired result, which is an electromagnetic environment that allows electrical equipment to run properly. Sometimes, this is achieved by mitigating EMI through design or shielding.
What are electrically conductive tapes
Electrically conductive tapes are specifically intended for EMI shielding and grounding applications. These products are designed with conductive particles, such as silver, nickel, or copper. The type and density of particles determine how the tape resists or conducts the electricity flow.
Electrically conductive tapes can also replace traditional grounding methods like soldering or mechanical fasteners. Depending on your application, ECTs are available with single- or double-sided adhesive. The raw material can easily be cut or converted to fit your specifications, then applied to the electronics component by machine or hand.
It’s important to note that ECTs don’t replace good electrical system design – but enhance it. Both design and tape are effective at minimizing EMI noise and crosstalk. However, electrically conductive tape can be a cost-effective, quick, and easy-to-implement solution to addressing any outstanding EMI issues without affecting the rest of the device.
Industries and applications that can benefit from ECT
Electronically conductive tapes are becoming increasingly popular in several industries, including automotive, communication infrastructure, industrial, aerospace, and defense. They can also be effective in general electronics such as sensors, cameras, meters, displays, antennas, etc.
What’s more, ECTs are versatile and can be made to perform a wide range of functions:
- Electrostatic discharge (ESD)
- Shield-can lid
- PCB/flex/chassis grounding
- Bond line gap shielding
- EMI shield and gasket attachment
- Electrical connectivity to medium pitch flexible circuits and PCBs
- Flex circuit to flex circuit interconnection
- Passive intermodulation (PIM) management
Tips for designing and converting electrically conductive tapes
When it comes to electronically conductive tapes for your application, material selection is critical. You want to make sure your material is compatible with the substrate for optimal adhesion, is the appropriate thickness, and is suitable for the operating environmental conditions. For more areas to consider, read our article, 7 Questions to Ask When Selecting Electrically Conductive Tape.
At Tapecon, we utilize our materials expertise and close supplier relationships to assist with the materials selection process. We can also provide multiple options and perform materials testing to objectively identify the ideal product. From there, we offer a wide range of materials converting capabilities to precisely customize ECT tape to your specifications.
Let’s make something great
With over 100 years of manufacturing experience, Tapecon works with product teams to solve challenges, create products, and enhance lives. Learn more about our electronics materials applications.