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Customised containers keep costly testers safe

A QED Design and Manufacture product story
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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Apr 20, 2006

ESL Defence, world leader in electro-optical technology for military applications, specifies QED Hi-K customised containers for its airborne electronic warfare test sets.

When shipping sensitive electronic test equipment across the globe, it's critical that it should be safeguarded against mechanical damage, transit vibration and thermal shock, especially where the contents are worth upwards of GBP 50,000.

But if the equipment itself is being deployed in aircraft flight lines, on the tarmac or in a maintenance hangar, the integrity of the container itself can prevent costly foreign object damage (FOD), where debris could be ingested by aeroplanes and helicopters with disastrous results.

That is why ESL Defence of Hamble, Hampshire, world leader in electro-optical technology for military applications, specifies QED Hi-K customised containers for its airborne electronic warfare (EW) test sets, used for validating aircraft defensive aid suites in flight line environments.

Its handheld Meon units, designed for verifying that DIRCM (directed infra-red countermeasures) systems are operating correctly, are packaged in QED's double-skinned, moulded ABS thermoplastic cases, fitted with unique self-skinning polyurethane foam liners and made to Mil-Spec (military specification) standards.

This lightweight format provides ultimate protection against physical and thermal damage, when equipment is shipped by international carriers and deployed around the world in highly aggressive environments, and may soon be adopted for ESL's Baringa and Hydra missile warning test sets.

Kent-based QED Design and Manufacture specialises in producing custom cases, containers and packaging systems for sensitive electronics, military and medical equipment, test and measuring instrumentation, communications hardware and similar kit, employing in-house thermoforming, injection moulding, CNC machining and CAD/CAM resources.

It has more than 30 years of experience of fulfilling military contracts and is thoroughly conversant with MoD, NATO and Mil-Spec standards, so is ideally equipped to supply ESL Defence.

It has provided the firm with self-customising instrument cases for a number of years and more recently designed bespoke versions of its Hi-K container.

Only slightly larger than an electric drill and weighing around 12kg, the Meon was developed by ESL as an end-to-end confidence test set for DIRCM systems.

It is a precision electro-optical device, designed to the highest military specification, which ensures that aircrew know their systems are effective before entering threat environments.

Widely used by armed forces worldwide, it is priced at around GBP 50,000, making it a valuable commodity in shipping terms, and is supplied with a laser range finder, power supply, filters and cleaning and maintenance sundries.

The moulded Hi-K case, now specified for the Meon, offers no risk of foreign object debris, thanks to in-built feet and smooth external contours; while the handles, catches and hinges are firmly secured through internal load spreading plates and have built-in impact protection.

Thermoformed from self-coloured acrylonitrile-butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic, a material renowned for its outstanding impact strength and resilience, the Hi-K features a rigid, twin-wall composite structure, the cavity between the inner and outer walls being filled with inert rigid foam.

Not only does this ensure that any impact load is dissipated throughout the structure of the case, the Hi-K's sandwich construction provides excellent insulation, reducing the effect of sudden temperature changes and minimising the risk of thermal shock to delicate optical instruments.

Produced for ESL in standard NATO green, the 560 x 445 x 200mm Meon case incorporates a customised liner, cast from QED's unique RFPDI self-skinned polyurethane foam.

This process enables detailed shapes for the main unit and accessories, affording optimum shock, drop and vibration protection, and imparts a smooth wipe-clean surface that's ideal for pristine electro-optical equipment.

The case itself is fitted with an IP65 rated seal, to prevent the ingress of moisture, and a manual pressure relief valve, to regulate the airtight container.

Extremely robust yet relatively lightweight, it weighs just 6kg, helping to keep shipping costs down.

"We have a good partnership with QED and there's never been a problem with the integrity of the cases", says ESL Defence's Business Development Manager, Steve Pilling.

"They're more than accommodating too, when it comes to looking at further applications".

"We're talking to the US Air Force currently about supplying our Baringa test sets in Hi-K containers, rather than standard transit cases, and QED has provided samples FOC for evaluation".

"Their radiused corners and foam injected double-skin construction make Hi-K cases much stronger and resistant to damage in transit".

Such has been the success of the Hi-K container, that ESL is now considering adopting this format across the rest of the EW test set range.

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