In the case of the J-box on the tugboat, I could see two things that might help. First, the box was located where it was bound to get wet (from water over the bow and from pressure hoses used to clean the deck). Relocating the box to a less exposed area would surely help. Second, the box lid was a simple flat plate held on with four screws. It's a very popular box for shipboard applications, and a flat plate cover is cost-effective, but probably not the best design for the problem. A lid with flanges that protect the gasket would prevent water from the pressure hoses from impinging on the gasket. The box isn't really rated for high-pressure water jets.
For the project two months ago, the water came from a proportional valve with an I/P (current to pressure) converter, which controlled high-pressure hot water. Faulty check valves permitted the water into the air lines, into the I/P converter, through the electrical conduits, and into the enclosure. I suppose in this case all of the enclosures, fittings, and conduit actually performed to specification. Water did not enter through them.
The shipboard J-box wasn't rated for pressurized water jets. Faulty check valves let water pass through an I/P converter. Operator error permitted water into the enclosure.
Selecting the right components for the initially specified conditions may not suit the reality of the installation. Improper installation either at your machine or other equipment connected to yours can still let the environment in. Using components rated higher than necessary will affect the bottom line of your company, and yet you must still plan for expected misuse. Maintaining the separation of the environment from your machinery is a challenging balancing act.
Thanks for the feedback. I can see where the corrosion protection would be different in the two environments. I guess I was thinking more about the water aspect of the environment, but it looks like the two are inseparable.
I would guess less than you might think. Take the junction box design, for instance. Any commercially available industrial J-box has a flange all the way around the door. It adds stiffness, and prevents directed jets from impinging directly on the door gasket.
Shipboard means of corrosion protection include layer after layer of heavy paint (assuredly not latex house paint, either). I don't see that sort of anticorrosion coating making a comeback in factories.
TJ, thanks for a clear explanation of what can go wrong with water ingress. Your mention of both the tugboat and industrial washdown environments made me wonder how much cross-over there might be from technology developed for naval environments to industrial contexts?
During a recent contract, I was hired to design an enclosure intended to pass IP64 and temperature cycling extremes. Since I had experience designing both water-resistant, and water-proof (ambiguous terms invented by marketing,,,) enclosures in the past, I saw no real challenge to the task.
While laying out the preliminary product concept, I specified TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) as the gasket material between the housings. I had used that solution previously, and its sealing capability to prevent water -- even pressurized and/or blowing water -- was proven. TPEs are highly compressible and provide excellent dimensional compliance when gasketing between harder plastics.
Luckily, a peer who had been down a similar road looked over my shoulder and quickly pointed out a problem:remember, the product must pass not only IP64 but also temperature extremes. His past experience taught that a TPE, when compressed per design intent, would take a permanent compression-set at extreme cold.Later, as the product cycled back to higher temperature, the TPE would no longer be compliant as a gasket and allowed significant water intrusion after only one cold cycle.The solution was to use silicone rubber, which has true spring-back to original geometry, even after hundreds of temperature cycles.
While injection-molded Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) resolved that particular problem, it was not without a long list of other engineering challenges; but I'll save those for a subsequent post.The points to remember are, (1) TPEs take a "set" at extreme cold, and (2) don't be afraid to listen to your peers.
One of the machines that I worked on had a pressurized hydraulic tank. About 4 psi from the plant compressed air supply was supposed to keep water from getting in. However, the design team had upgraded the reservoir to have a vented cap. When I advised them that a vented cap would not hold pressure, they told me " you don't understand". When I installed this version of machine I advised the customer not to try to pressurize the tank - to turn that regulator down to zero. On one of my service calls for a similar machine, the hydraulic oil looked milky. I found the plant had wet air. The air drop did not have a drip leg or drain valve. The machine's water trap was full of water and the automatic drain had been turned off, and the lubricator was also full of water, instead of oil. And the pressurization regulator was on. So effectively they had been adding water to the hydraulic tank through the pressurization system that was supposed to keep the water out.
I'm sure engineers across disciplines and industries can appreciate your tales of water ingress protection. Lots of perspective advice, too, as to how to prevent or at least trouble shoot this issue. I'm sure water isn't the only environmental component that finds a way to wreck havoc on engineering efforts--what are some of the other major environmental influences that post common challenges for engineers?
Iterative design — the cycle of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product — existed long before additive manufacturing, but it has never been as efficient and approachable as it is today with 3D printing.
People usually think of a time constant as the time it takes a first order system to change 63% of the way to the steady state value in response to a step change in the input -- it’s basically a measure of the responsiveness of the system. This is true, but in reality, time constants are often not constant. They can change just like system gains change as the environment or the geometry of the system changes.
At its core, sound is a relatively simple natural phenomenon caused by pressure pulsations or vibrations propagating through various mediums in the world around us. Studies have shown that the complete absence of sound can drive a person insane, causing them to experience hallucinations. Likewise, loud and overwhelming sound can have the same effect. This especially holds true in manufacturing and plant environments where loud noises are the norm.
The tech industry is no stranger to crowdsourcing funding for new projects, and the team at element14 are no strangers to crowdsourcing ideas for new projects through its design competitions. But what about crowdsourcing new components?
It has been common wisdom of late that anything you needed to manufacture could be made more cost-effectively on foreign shores. Following World War II, the label “Made in Japan” was as ubiquitous as is the “Made in China” version today and often had very similar -- not always positive -- connotations. Along the way, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Pacific-rim nations have each had their turn at being the preferred low-cost alternative to manufacturing here in the US.
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