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W. L. Gore & Associates
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Acoustic Vent Preserves Sound Quality of Portable Electronic Devices after Immersion in Water
ELKTON, Md.—When a smartphone or smartwatch remains underwater for an extended period, its sound quality is likely to suffer. W. L. Gore & Associates, known far and wide for its waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX® fabric, tackled this limitation head-on in its development of a new acoustic vent for portable electronic devices. Launched in June, the GORE® Portable Electronic Vent GAW331 is engineered specifically to maintain the sound quality of a device that’s been immersed in 30 meters (3 bar) of water for 10 minutes.
The Gore Portable Electronic Vent GAW331 is available in a standard product size of only 1.6mm inner diameter x 4.2mm outer diameter.
Photo courtesy of W.L. Gore & Associates.
“Today’s consumers expect reliable performance from their portable electronic devices, whether they are snorkeling with their action camera or swimming with their smartwatch,” said Gore’s Sara Ellis in a press release. Ellis partnered with fellow Product Specialist Shigeharu Murayama to lead the development of the new vent for immersion applications.
Also known as the Gore Acoustic Vent, the GAW331 is said to deliver reliable protection and immersion performance as measured by the most rigorous industry standards. It complies with ISO 22810, the standard that defines water resistance for watches, meaning the GAW331 vents withstand immersion at 30 meters for 10 minutes without leaking.
The Gore GAW331 is also said to comply with standards relevant to smartphone applications, such as IEC 60529 for Ingress Protection (IP). Under this standard, the GAW331 qualifies for both the IP67 rating (temporary immersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes) and IP68 rating (continuous immersion in 10 meters of water for 60 minutes and 30 meter submersion for 10 minutes), according to the manufacturer.
“The new GAW331 protects devices against liquid ingress and maintains high-performance acoustics at levels not previously achieved,” said Shigeharu Murayama. “It does so by minimizing attenuation and holding transmission loss below 2 dB at 1 kHz with a 3mm vent diameter.”
According to the manufacturer, the new Acoustic Vent GAW331 has been engineered to deliver a typical airflow of 285 ml/min/cm2 (dp = 70 mbar). This, company representatives say, provides the optimal balance of two critical—and competing—performance requirements: a highly-protected housing that meets ISO and IEC standards, and a highly-breathable housing that is said to reduce transducer bias and delivers high-quality acoustics.
The key is an extremely thin ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) membrane. The GAW331 uses a unique oleophobic ePTFE membrane to deliver high performance in very small electronic devices. With a typical part thickness of just 0.28 mm, this very thin black membrane with adhesive attachment is well suited for applications where housing space is limited.
The membrane’s node-and-fibril construction permits gas molecules (air) to pass through easily while effectively blocking the entry of water and solid particles, regardless of size or shape. This structure is also highly responsive to sound waves, so as they pass through this membrane, acoustic integrity is maintained. The result is high-quality sound, with exceptional waterproof protection against anything from light rain to complete immersion, according to Gore (www.gore.com).
The GAW331 is available in a standard product size of 1.6 mm inner diameter x 4.2 mm outer diameter. Customized product sizes are also available and can be designed for specific application requirements.
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