Unmanned vehicles need custom seals, gaskets, and insulation that can withstand marine environments. Commercial drones and the electronics cases that are used with them also need reliable sealing and insulation. Elasto Proxy, a leader in custom-fabricated rubber products, can provide unmanned vehicle OEMs and their suppliers with value-added manufacturing that includes design assistance, help with material selection, prototyping, and low-to-medium volume quantities.

Previous articles in this series have described Elasto Proxy’s capabilities with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). In the conclusion to this three-part series, we’ll take a look at how Elasto Proxy can solve sealing and insulation challenges for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), and commercial drones. We’ll also take a look at sealing and insulation solutions for unmanned vehicle accessories.

Applications, Sizes, and Form Factors

USVs and UUVs are used in both military and commercial applications.

Military USVs and military UUVs are used in mine sweeping, target identification and tracking, acoustic monitoring, and other intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance activities (ISR).

Commercial USVs and commercial UUVs are used in marine biology, oceanographic research, search and rescue operations, and the inspection of marine structures such as pipe and platforms.

Commercial drones are used for aerial photography and videography, surveying and mapping, precision agriculture, construction, mining, and scientific research. They’re also used by police departments and homeland security for security and surveillance.

Because unmanned vehicles are available in different sizes, insulation and gasket sizes vary. Depending on the part, custom rubber products are water jet cut from either sheet materials or rubber extrusions. Water jet cutting eliminates tooling and waiting for tooling while supporting part features such as bolt-hole patterns. Elasto Proxy can also convert roll materials and supply molded rubber parts.

Types, Compounds, and Custom Fabrication

USVs, UUVs, and commercial drones require the following types of rubber products.

– Antenna gaskets

– Door seals and hatch seals

– EMI shielding gaskets

– Sealing and insulation for electronic cases

Let’s take a closer look at each type and consider compound selection and custom fabrication.

Antenna gaskets seal the gap between the base of the antenna and the unmanned vehicle’s surface. They are water jet cut from sheet materials and support the use of tapes and adhesives that can withstand salt water or aviation conditions. USV and UUV antenna gaskets resist salt spray and underwater submersion, respectively. Antenna gaskets for commercial drones require strong flex-fatigue resistance to withstand the stress of repeated takeoffs and landings.

Door seals and hatch seals keep out freshwater or saltwater, but enable crews to access compartments where power systems, electronics, and payloads are kept. These gaskets are water jet cut from rubber extrusions. They provide dynamic sealing, resist compression, and have strong bonded corners. For marine environments, EPDM is a good choice because of its resistance to saltwater. Flurosilicones provide resistance to petroleum and chemicals for fuel door hatches.

EMI gaskets withstand electromagnetic interference (EMI) from onboard sources such as motors, propellers, and generators. These shielding gaskets also offer protection against intentional electronic jamming. Particle-filled silicones are a good choice because these compounds combine the environmental sealing of silicone rubber with the electrical properties of metals. In marine environments, nickel particles are preferable to silver because of nickel’s greater salt-spray resistance.

Sealing and insulation for electronic cases support the use of commercial drones and other unmanned vehicles, including UAVs. These hard-shell metal or plastic cases require have EPDM or silicone seals that keep out contaminants, withstand a range of temperatures, and withstanding repeated opening and closing. Electronic cases also features insulation that provides cushioning and support for removable components such as camera lenses that are kept inside case until the unmanned vehicle is deployed.

Seals, Gaskets, and Insulation for Unmanned Vehicles

Do you need sealing and insulating for unmanned vehicles? Elasto Proxy understands your application environment and provides value-added manufacturing that meets your business and technical needs. To learn how we can help you, please contact us.