Within manufacturing, there are many codes and standards we must be aware of and adhere to. One such standard is the International Protection (IP) code, which is also frequently referred to as the Ingress Protection Rating This standard published by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) classifies and rates the degree of protection casings and enclosures provide against dust, water, and accidental contact. Let’s go a bit deeper. 

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The Ingress Protection rating standard means users have access to more detailed information than marketing terms like “waterproof.” Instead, the Ingress Protection rating will give specific information so they know just how water resistant the material or product really is. The IP code designation for the product consists of 1 or 2 letters, followed by two numbers, and then may be suffixed with 1 or 2 additional letters. IP designations also do not feature hyphens, so the presence of a hyphen is a sign of an invalid Ingress Protection code. 

Let us now break down what each of these mean. 

First is the code letter designation. If the code begins with the letters IP, representing the Ingress Protection designation. Otherwise, the first letter will be M, standing for mandatory regulation. 

The first digit of the code calls out the level of protection the enclosure provides against solid particles: 

Level Effective Against Description 
X  X means there is no available data to specify a rating. 
 No protection against contact and ingress of objects. 
>50mm / 2.0 in Any large surface of the body (back of a hand, for example), but not deliberate contact. 
>12.5mm / .49 in Fingers or similar objects. 
>2.5mm / 0.098 in Tools, thick wire, etc. 
>1mm / 0.039 in Most wires, slender screws, large ants, etc. 
Dust protected Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the operation of the equipment. 
6 Dust-tight No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust-tight). A vacuum must be applied and test duration lasts up to 8 hours based on airflow. 
Electrical equipment room

The Ingress Protection Rating gives you peace of mind that your electrical equipment is safe from water and dust.

The second digit refers to the protection the enclosure provides against the ingress of water. Beyond the number 6, the ratings are not cumulative, so a device that is compliant with IPX7 (covering the immersion in water) is not necessarily compliant with IPX5 or IPX6 since these refer to exposure to water jets.  

Level Protection Against Effective Against Details 
X  Like solids, an X indicates insufficient data. 
None  No protection  
Dripping water Dripping water will have no harmful effect on the equipment is mounted in an upright position onto a turntable and rotated at 1 RPM. Test duration: 10 minutes. 

Water equivalent to 3mm (0.12 in) rainfall per minute. 

Dripping water when tilted at 15° Dripping water will have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15° from its normal position. A total of 4 positions are tested. Test duration: 2.5 minutes for every direction of tilt (10 minutes total). 

Water equivalent to 3mm of rainfall per minute. 

Spraying water Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either an oscillating fixture, or a spray nozzle with a counterbalanced shield. For a spray nozzle: Test duration: 1 minute per square meter for at least 5 minutes. 

For an oscillating tube: Test duration: 10 minutes  

Water volume: 0.07 liters per minute. 

Splashing water Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either an oscillating fixture, or a spray nozzle with no shield. Test duration: 10 minutes. 
Water jets Water projected by a nozzle against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects. Test duration: 1 minute per square meter for at least three minutes. 
Powerful water jets Water projected in powerful jets  against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects. Test duration: 1 minute per square meter for at least three minutes. 
6K Powerful water jets + increased pressure Water projected in powerful jets (6.3 mm (0.25 in) nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction, under elevated pressure, shall have no harmful effects. Test duration: at least 3 minutes. 
Immersion, up to 1 meter depth Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under pressure and time. Test duration: 30 minutes. 
Immersion, 1 meter or more depth The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. Test duration: specified by manufacturer. 
9K Powerful high-temperature water jets Protected against close-range high pressure, high-temperature spray downs. Test duration: Fixture: 30 seconds in 4 different angles (2 minutes total). 

What does this look like in practice? A piece of equipment rates as an IP68 will be resistant to dust and could also be immersed in more than 1 meter of water. 

There are also a few additional designations that may be added to the end of the IP designation to further clarify safety for people. These are: 

A – Back of hand 

B – Finger 

C – Tool 

D – Wire 

Finally, there are 4 more optional letters for the protection of the equipment. These are: 

H – High voltage apparatus 

M – Motion during water test 

S – Stationary during water test 

– Weather conditions. 

As you can doubtlessly see, there are a number of different considerations to keep in mind. So, if you need guidance or advice on your parts or equipment and meeting the required needs they must meet under the Ingress Protection testing standards, the Breiner team has the knowledge you need to get the optimal performance required. 

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