LONDON A way of protecting the sophisticated electronic circuitry and sensors used within a range of residential and commercial water meters is based on technology used to protect the electronics in underwater cameras and other monitoring equipment used for studying the behaviour of turtles, dolphins, whales and Antarctic fur seals in the wild.
The new meters are designed to withstand water pressures up to 60 atmospheres [60 kg per square centimetre] at temperatures from zero to 60 degrees C and to have expected lifetimes of more than 20 years.
The design was done by consultancy 42 Technology (St Ives, England) which has teamed up with Wild Insight (Ely, England), a local expert in marine wildlife photography.
The approach relies on filling the housing for the electronics unit with resin and under vacuum to ensure that any entrapped air is carefully removed.
Ollie Cox from Wild Insight was brought in by 42T as an associate to help the consultancy's design team design a new type of meter with high pressure water resistance and an extended lifetime. The consultancy already works with an extensive network of associates allowing it to quickly assemble the team but protecting electronics for use in high pressure underwater environments is a very specialized area.
The meters need to withstand constant exposure to high pressure water at 15 atmospheres but 42T's product is designed to survive four times that for a protracted lifetime
“Ollie is an expert in developing highly automated, ruggedised underwater cameras making him the perfect addition to our project team,” said David Wilson, director at 42T. ” His cameras and other monitoring equipment are routinely used to capture still or video images at depths of up to 2000 meters, where pressures are 200 atmospheres or more, so our requirement was just routine to him.”
The packaging solution devised by 42T and Wild Insight is simple, low cost and effective: making it perfect for encasing increasingly sophisticated electronics in a range of demanding environments including utility metering and industrial instrumentation.
42T is a product design and development consultancy that specialises in creating innovative products for consumer and business markets including medical and healthcare, industrial, packaging and dispense, consumer, food and drink, and energy.
The company's core team of industry-experienced product designers and engineers works closely with academia, selected associates and partner companies to offer a cost-effective and efficient approach to new product development.
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