Manufacturing products for what is considered ‘normal,’ or everyday environments has become so commonplace that it can be all too easy to forget that there needs to be a number of considerations for manufacturing products that will be subjected to ‘harsh’ environments.
The specifications and the approach to manufacturing under these harsh conditions must be different. The components that are used, the metals, and other considerations are very often different when working on products that will be used in these harsher, more challenging environments.
What Are Some of These Environments?
One harsh environment would be space and the events of space travel as these put components, such as electronics, under a great deal of pressure. Products that might be used for satellites or rocket propulsion, for example, will be placed under tougher conditions but at the same time will need to be much lighter than those that would be used for, as an example, a computer integration system for a railway yard. This article from Engineering and Technology Magazine, Engineering for Space – the ISS, discusses these challenges of manufacturing components for the International Space Station.
Other harsh environments might include extreme heat or cold, for example Antarctica exploration and research. Deep water submersible machinery, which is becoming much more common in our modern age as scientists seek to explore the world several miles below the surface of the oceans, also places a great deal of pressure on manufactured components. Oceanus Magazine from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute recently published the article Building the Next-Generation Alvin Submersible which talks about the factors to be considered when rebuilding the Alvin to be able to widthstand deeper and longer voyages to the bottom of the ocean floor.
Why Harsh Environments Create Challenges
Regardless of the type of harsh environment one is talking about, there are going to be greater challenges that must be addressed when engineering products and components for use in them. For example, with submersibles the challenge would be the pressure that the water places on the components becoming extreme the deeper the submersible dives.
If the electrical components, such as basic electrical connectors, are engineered in the same manner as those used on terrestrial ground, the extreme pressure can not only force water into the electrical connections, but potentially degrade the connections (and subsequently conductivity) at a much faster rate. Another consideration when discussing this example is the salinity of the water. Salinity will affect metal differently than fresh water.
The bottom line is that there are many considerations that must be made that will set these products, and components, apart from their regular use counterparts. This requires a more determined approach with regard to engineering, which can also drive up the cost of creating the products. However, when these extra considerations are made, the products produced will be much more effective in the environment they are to be used in.
Here at PRV Engineering we have a wide range of experience in producing components and fabrications for all types of environments across the globe. You can contact us by following this link.