How IP ratings affect coding, marking and printing

  • By Chris Thorpe
  • July 17, 2015
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What are IP ratings?

Ever thought about what moisture-resistant actually means? How about dust-resistant? Without a clear definition, those terms are almost meaningless. That’s where IP ratings come in. They indicate the ability of a product or electrical enclosure - like the casing of a printer, for example - to withstand foreign objects and moisture. It’s called ingress protection - hence IP rating.

Why do IP ratings matter?

It goes without saying that your printers and coders need to be able to withstand the rigours of your factory environment. Some electronics do not take kindly to lots of dust and moisture. IP ratings give you a measure of your product’s resistance to, or protection against, external elements like dust and moisture - which is key to the long-term reliability of your technology.

Cracking the code...

IP ratings follow a simple format: the letters IP followed by two numbers - for example, IP34. The first number relates to protection against solids, the second number relates to protection against liquids.

The first number: protection against solids

The second number: protection against liquids

The third number: protection against mechanical impacts

Occasionally IP ratings feature a third number. It’s commonly omitted, but if you see it this is what it means.

Examples

The best way to understand IP ratings is through examples.

  • IP62 provides total protection against dust and protection against sprays of water up to 15o from the vertical
  • IP35 will block the ingression of solid objects bigger than 2.5mm as well as moisture from low pressure jets of water from all directions
  • IP26 will block solid objects bigger than 12mm and provide protection against temporary flooding of water

What level of protection do you need?

Different printers come with different IP ratings. Deciding on the level of protection that’s right for you means carefully studying your operational environment. How much protection do your printers need from liquids? Is your production line particularly dusty?

Note that you may need less protection than you think. Some printers can be removed during certain processes - cleaning, for example - to protect the machinery from moisture. You could also cover your printer with a waterproof sheet.

Standards are important...

Testing standards should comply with IEC60529. It’s also worth checking whether a printer’s IP testing has been conducted independently or by the manufacturer. Independent testing is generally more reliable. 

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