The Evolution of Waterproofing

waterproof wooden ship

Mallory McGuinness | April 1, 2021

The Evolution of Waterproofing

What do a pirate ship, a leather jacket, and a Samsung S21 smartphone all have in common? No, this is not the beginning of some strange joke. The truth is, all of these items at one time or another have been labeled as “waterproof.” Let’s take a look at the history of waterproofing and how we got to the waterproof solutions that exist today.

Medieval & Ancient Waterproofing

Over the years, the definition of what makes an item waterproof has changed quite a bit, so let’s start at the beginning. Long before the use of special technology or chemicals, like the ones used in modern-day waterproofing, people used substances found in nature like tar, pitch, oil or wax to give objects waterproof qualities

How Were Wooden Ships Made Waterproof?

On ships, tar or pitch waterproofing was the most common method used. Wooden boats were made water-resistant by putting tar in the hull of the boat. The pitch or tar sealed the wooden boards of the ship together, keeping water out and allowing the boat to float. Sailors also utilized oil on their sails in another form of waterproofing. This trick started back in the sixteenth century, when sails were greased with oil to help the fabric withstand the harsh sea environment and better survive the battering rains that come during an intense storm.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the use of wax also began to surge in popularity as a waterproofing method. The general consumer of the nineteenth century could weave wax-covered threads into clothing to give them waterproof fabric. Later in the twentieth century, the aviation industry covered fabric wings in waxed fabrics to waterproof them in case of bad weather. All of these ancient forms of waterproofing, whether by tar, oil, or wax, shared the common goal of keeping water off or out of an object. These waterproofing techniques were soon replaced by much more reliable options.

20th Century Waterproofing

Moving forward 100 years, the title of “waterproof” is now everywhere. For example, anyone can purchase aerosol waterproofing for shoes, clothing, and other fabric. The next evolution in waterproofing was the invention and use of mechanical plugs and seals in devices, designed to prevent water damage in any sensitive components that could be damaged by coming in contact with it. Mechanical seals and gaskets essentially work as a plastic, or rubber, physical barrier between parts of the device and the water outside of it.

These seals allowed for devices to be used in new ways, and taken to new places. The problem with these seals, however, is that they are temperamental. Any change in temperature or pressure causes the seal to expand or contract, breaking the waterproof closure and allowing the penetration of water into the device or object. Sudden bumps or drops can also affect the way these mechanical seals fit, as can errors in user application.

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Modern Waterproofing

Jumping ahead to the present, a new era in waterproofing solutions was born with the entrance of thin-film nanotechnology waterproofing companies, like HZO. Yet, according to the strictest definition, even this highly advanced technology is not considered “waterproof.” The definition of waterproof, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is: “impervious to water; especially: covered or treated with a material (as a solution of rubber) to prevent permeation by water.”

This thin-film protective coating technology changed the entire idea of waterproofing by allowing water inside of a device while still keeping it perfectly functional. So perhaps it is time for Merriam-Webster to update their definition. Modern waterproofing doesn’t require that an object be “impervious to water,” but that it keeps working even while fully submerged. In short, HZO’s technology changed the way the world defines waterproofing.

With the way technology has evolved over the years, it is clear that the next evolutionary step in waterproofing will be here. Here at HZO, we are excited to be a part of an industry that always provides innovative and revolutionary products that will continue to define the future of waterproofing electronic devices. For more information on HZO and our revolutionary waterproofing technology, please visit our website at www.hzo.com!

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Ryan Moore

Ryan is a 9-year veteran to the world of protecting electronics from harsh environments and a lover of all things technology.

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