Gaskets for RF Connectors and Interconnects

Why do we use gaskets with RF connectors and interconnect devices?

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- everything RF

Jan 8, 2023


A gasket is a mechanical seal that fills the space between two or more RF connectors/interconnects to prevent or minimize leakages. It is usually made of deformable materials to create a static seal and maintain that seal under various operating conditions. Gaskets are used to fill irregularities on the surfaces of two mating connectors. They are used to seal the connection point and compensate against temperature changes, fluid (liquids/gas) leaks including chemicals & pressure variations and secure the connector in place. RF connector gaskets sometimes also provide EMI shielding along with protection from fluid leaks. 

RF connectors are used in a wide range of industries and harsh environments. They are often subjected to liquids and gases that can seep through to the connection point and disrupt RF signals that pass through it or cause short circuits that may damage equipment. The interconnect devices can also be prone to various types of chemicals that can cause corrosion. RF connectors are also used in underwater machinery, airborne vehicles (like planes, helicopters etc.) parts and even in space (satellites, space stations etc.). In such scenarios, they may undergo major changes in pressure and temperature which may cause the connector to loosen.

Gasket material is also chosen for an installation on the basis of the features of the material, such as its resistance to chemicals, temperatures (or temperature fluctuations), pressures, acids, gases, and sometimes electromagnetic or electrical forces. It is usually desirable that the gasket be made from a material that is to some degree yielding such that it is able to deform and tightly fill the space it is designed for, including any slight irregularities. Some types of gaskets also require a sealant to be applied directly to the gasket surface to function properly.

Some materials used for gaskets are - paper, rubber, silicone, metal, cork, felt, neoprene, nitrile rubber, fiberglass, polytetrafluoroethylene (otherwise known as PTFE or Teflon) or plastic polymers (such as polychlorotrifluoroethylene), Perfluoroelastomer (FFKM), Nitrile (NBR), Hydrogenated Nitrile (HNBR), Viton (or FKM/FPM), Viton A, Viton B, Viton GF, Viton GLT, Viton GFLT, Viton ETP, Ethylene Propylene (EPDM), Silicone (VMQ), Fluorosilicone (FVMQ) and Medical Grade materials. 

One of the desirable properties of an effective gasket in industrial applications for compressed fiber gasket material is the ability to withstand high compressive loads. Most industrial gasket applications involve withstanding pressure exerted by bolts which can go well into the 14 MPa (2000 psi) range or higher. There are several ways to measure a gasket material's ability to withstand compressive loading. The "hot compression test" is probably one of the most widely accepted tests. Manufacturers of gasket materials usually provide or publish the results of these tests for customers to select the appropriate gasket according to their needs.

Here is an example of a waterproof connected by Intelliconnect - Pisces Series. The Pisces Series are waterproof connectors from IntelliConnect that have been developed for use in mil-aerospace, SCADA, marine, medical, transportation, and oil and gas applications. These IP67 and IP68 rated connectors are sealed internally and are therefore waterproof when unmated. They are available in various connector formats that include: ABMS (Rugged MCX), N-Type, Push-Pull, TNC, and SMA.