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 LEVELLiquid
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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