Understanding IP ratings

The Importance of IP Ratings in Electronic Devices

What is the IP Rating System?

The IP rating system is a standard that reflects the degree of protection an electronic device or component has against potential liquid or solid contamination. The IP rating is usually seen in the form of IPXX, where IP stands for Ingress Protection, followed by a pair of “X”s that denote specific numerical indicators, with the first “X” signifying protection against solids and the second “X” signifying protection against liquids.

IPXX Standard with description

What do the Xs mean?

Solid IPXX LEVEL Liquid
No protection0No protection
Protected against a solid object greater than 50mm1Protected against condensation or dripping water falling vertically.
Protected against a solid object greater than 12.5mm2Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 15 degrees vertically.
Protected against a solid object greater than 2.5mm3Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 60 degrees vertically.
Protected against a solid object greater than 1.0 mm4Protected against splashing water from any angle.
Protected against enough dust to cause harm5Protected against low pressure water stream from any angle.
Absolutely to dust ingress6Protected against low-pressure water stream from any angle.
Not applicable to solids7Protected against water immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter.
Not applicable to solids8Protected against continual water submersion in underwater conditions.
Table 1. IP Rating Scale for Solids and Liquids

For example, if you are looking for a device that has protection against solid objects greater than 1.0mm and against water immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter, you would look for an IP47 rating. If on the other hand, you are not concerned about solid ingress but need protection from water splashing, you would look for an IPX4 rating. In today’s world, cell phones have an IPX7 rating, while generally, most electronic components like laptops, headphones, televisions, and cameras have IPX4 ratings.

What is the point of an IP rating?

So what is the purpose of this rating? In real life, consumers too often accidentally damage their devices. Maybe you accidentally jump in the pool with your phone in your pocket, or maybe you are trying to install a unit or piece of equipment that will be exposed to rain or humidity. In these cases, the devices require a coating that will protect them from liquid or solid ingress.

This is where nanocoatings like Aculon’s PCB Waterproofing Treatments come into play. Aculon’s NanoProof™ Series offers customers a range of PCB waterproofing solutions from IPX3 protecting against accidental water damage IPX3 (NanoProof 1.0) to IPX7 to greater barrier properties that can withstand 100 hours of immersion in sweat solutions and some of the most stringent test methods developed for non-hermetic components (NanoProof™ 5.1). The goal of these treatments is to protect the electronic components from short circuits and other damage caused by moisture, which can cause corrosion and degrade the performance of the circuit over time.

How do waterproofing nanocoatings work?

Waterproofing nanocoatings work by applying a layer of nanoparticles to the surface of the electrical component. These nanoparticles form a dense network on the component’s surface, creating a barrier that effectively repels water and other liquids while providing excellent electrical insulation. This means the circuit remains fully functional even in harsh, wet environments.

waterproofing nanocoating on an electronic component

How is a waterproofing treatment applied?

There are multiple ways to apply waterproofing treatments, including dip, spray, or dispensing. One of the benefits of Aculon’s product portfolio is that it offers PCB Waterproofing Treatments with no cure. In most cases, simply air drying is enough to activate the coating. To dry, the part should be placed at room temperature until the solvent is evaporated. It should leave an oily coating that is deformable to the touch.

To summarize:

The IP rating system measures how well electronic devices resist solids and liquids. Higher numbers indicate better protection—like IPX7, which means a device can handle 1-meter water immersion for 30 minutes. Nanocoatings, such as Aculon’s NanoProof™ series, shield electronics from moisture damage without affecting their appearance. These coatings repel liquids using nanoparticles, preserving functionality. They’re easy to apply, requiring no curing, and ensuring a clean surface boosts their effectiveness. Overall, IP ratings and nanocoatings like Nanoproof 1.0, Nanoproof 5.1, Nanoproof 2.1, and Nanoproof 8.4 help devices withstand environmental challenges, ensuring their durability and reliability.

Facing challenges in product selection or encountering difficulties with your application? Let our team of Coatings Experts be your guide. Contact us today, and we’ll navigate the complexities with you to find the perfect solution for your unique needs.

About Kalliope Zembillas

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