Monday, May 24, 2010

High Voltage Design Issues

A lot of times customers request 'ratings' on components used in assemblies.  It can be a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables.

For instance, one manufacturer might specify a given capacitor as being able to withstand 5kV, with a thickness of 0.1 inches.  Another manufacturer may specify the same voltage, but a thickness of 0.12 inches.

At VMI, we tend to be conservative when it comes to voltage ratings on capacitors, but it depends on a lot of things - for instance, current draw, operating temperature, and frequency, just to name a few.

One solution is to specify the volts/mil stress and let the customer decide if they're comfortable with that.

I always liked the story about how Orville and Wilbur Wright used to do it - they'd switch out a nut or bolt until it broke, then beef it up a little.  They used trial and error to specify minimum limits.    

How do you deal with component ratings?  Do you assume the manufacturer includes a margin of error?  Are you comfortable with pushing the limits on maximum ratings?


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