What are IP20-rated materials?

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The term “IP20” doesn’t specifically refer to a type of material, but rather to a classification that describes the level of protection offered by an enclosure, usually for electrical or electronic equipment. The IP (Ingress Protection) rating system is a standard defined in the international standard IEC 60529. It specifies the degree to which an enclosure protects against the intrusion of foreign objects, dust, accidental contact, and water.

The rating “IP20” can be broken down as follows:

  • IP: Ingress Protection
  • 2: Protected against solid objects greater than 12.5mm (e.g., fingers)
  • 0: Not protected against water ingress

In other words, an IP20-rated enclosure would provide some basic protection against larger objects like fingers but would not provide any protection against water ingress. This means that such enclosures are generally suitable for indoor environments where water exposure is not a concern.

It’s worth noting that the material used to construct an IP20-rated enclosure could vary widely, from metals like steel and aluminium to plastics and other composites. The key is not the material itself, but how the enclosure is designed and built to meet the IP20 criteria.

The IP (Ingress Protection) rating system is quite extensive and is used to specify the degree of protection an enclosure offers against external factors like solids and liquids. The rating typically consists of the letters “IP” followed by two digits. Here’s a breakdown of what those digits represent:

First Digit: Protection against Solid Objects or Materials

  • 0: No protection.
  • 1: Protected against solid objects over 50 mm (e.g., hands).
  • 2: Protected against solid objects over 12.5 mm (e.g., fingers).
  • 3: Protected against solid objects over 2.5 mm (e.g., tools).
  • 4: Protected against solid objects over 1.0 mm (e.g., wires).
  • 5: Dust-protected; limited ingress of dust permitted (no harmful deposit).
  • 6: Dust-tight; no ingress of dust.

Second Digit: Protection against Liquids

  • 0: No protection.
  • 1: Protected against vertically falling drops of water (e.g., condensation).
  • 2: Protected against vertically falling drops of water when the enclosure is tilted up to 15 degrees.
  • 3: Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 60 degrees.
  • 4: Protected against splashing water from any direction.
  • 5: Protected against low-pressure jets of water from any direction.
  • 6: Protected against high-pressure jets of water from any direction.
  • 7: Protected against immersion in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
  • 8: Protected against prolonged immersion in water under more severe conditions (specified by the manufacturer, often deeper than 1 meter).
  • 9K: Protected against high-pressure, high-temperature water jets, and steam cleaning (specific to road vehicles).

Examples

  • IP00: No protection against solids or liquids.
  • IP54: Dust-protected and protected against splashing water.
  • IP67: Dust-tight and protected against immersion in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
  • IP68: Dust-tight and protected against prolonged immersion in water under conditions specified by the manufacturer.
  • IP69K: Dust-tight and protected against high-pressure, high-temperature water jets, and steam cleaning (specific to road vehicles).

Note that some IP ratings may also include additional letters to indicate other forms of protection, such as resistance to mechanical impacts, but the basic IP ratings focus on solids and liquids.

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