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What Are IP Ratings?

By 22nd February 2019 March 8th, 2019 No Comments

The IP rating system is something you will encounter in the world of product design, you might have already heard it when buying a phone or other piece of technology but what does it mean?

IP stands for ‘Ingress Protection’ and it’s an international marking system used by manufacturers to denote how protected the internals of product enclosure and casings are. The rating quantifies how difficult it is for dirt, foreign objects, and water to get into the enclosure.

Take the Samsung Galaxy S8 for example’s sake.

Samsung rates the galaxy s8 at an IP rating of 68 but what does this mean? The IP rating denoted is not actually 68 (sixty-eight) its 6-8, two separate numbers conveying two separate scores against solid and liquid ingress (in that order).

This is the scale in which electrical enclosures are measured against:

Solid

Level Effective Against (less than Xmm) Description
X No data
0 No protection
1 50mm Large body parts
2 12.5mm Fingers
3 2.5mm Tools / thick wires
4 1mm Most wires
5 Dust protected Not entirely protected from dust but not enough to hamper functionality
6 Dust tight Complete protection from dust

 

Liquid

Level Effective Against Description
0 No Protection
1 Dripping water No harmful effect on the object from dripping water falling vertically while being rotated on a turntable (1rpm)
2 Dripping water tilted 15deg Vertically dropping water has no effect on the enclosure tilted at 15 degrees, 4 positions tested
3 Water spray Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60deg has no effect
4 Water splash Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction has no effect.
5 Water jets Water projected by a 6mm nozzle has no effect
6 Powerful water jets Water projected by a 12mm nozzle has no effect
6K Powerful jets high pressure Water projected by a 6mm nozzle at high pressure has no effect
7 Immersion (1m) Ingress of water at harmful quantity not possible immersed at 1m
8 Immersion (1m<) Suitable for continuous immersion under manufacturer specified test greater than those of 7
9K Powerful high temp jets of water Protected against close range high temperature and high pressure spray at 4 specific angles and tested freehand

So going back to Samsungs IP rating we can see that their phone is rated:

  • 6: Dust tight
  • 8: Immersion greater than 1m

This means that its dust-tight but also waterproof as well, we would refer you back to the table description to say that the 8 rating is set by a manufacturer dictated test, so even if it’s only slightly more rigorous than a 7 rating it still qualifies.

When choosing to build a custom enclosure it’s important to determine what level of IP rating that your product realistically needs, as attaining a more comprehensive and protected rating will obviously incur more costs which are not always necessary.

On top of the two tables scaling there are also additional attainable ratings for specific protection:

Letter Meaning
D Wire
F Oil resistant
H High voltage
M Moving during water test
S Standing still during water test
W Weather resistant

You should make sure that when you’re developing a product in its conceptual design phase that you identify the specific IP rating you’re looking to achieve. You should do this during this phase as it will influence the materials that your product will be made from, and the organisation of the internal components within the enclosure.

For more information and for advice on custom enclosure design please do get in touch.