Why an IP67 rating is vital for military computers

In this blog we will look at the IP67 rating and how this stringent standard for dust and water protection is crucial for demanding military computing applications. When a laptop or tablet is IP67 certified, an end user can be safe in the knowledge that the computer in their hands will be able to operate in the most demanding conditions.

Whether it’s rifles, radios or computer systems, the equipment that militaries use in the field will face extreme environments that will often test them to their limits. For this reason, it’s important for the military to know that their equipment has been through rigorous testing and has passed strict standards that ensure it does not fail when it’s needed the most.

There are a number of industry standards that manufacturers can use and that end users can specify in requirements that verifies that equipment – including computers – has been tested and ruggedised to a high specification.

Read more: The Environmental Testing of Military Computers

One such standard is an Ingress Protection (or IP) code/rating, which attributes a numerical value to signify how well sealed a piece of electrical equipment or enclosure is from keeping out water and dust.

What is IP67?

A piece of equipment or enclosure with an IP67 rating will be fully sealed to protect it against dust and also protect against temporary immersion in water. “Temporary” in this case is actually defined as up to 30 minutes and up to 1m of water.

The two-digit numerical code ‘67’ tells us more, with the first number ‘6’ referring to the protection level against dust (also known as ‘solid foreign objects’), while the number ‘7’ is reference to the protection level against water ingress.

The first number on an IP rating is on a sliding scale from 0 (no protection) up to 6 (the most protected) against dust, and similarly the second number is a scale from 0 (no protection) up to 8 (most protected) in terms of water and liquid ingress. In the case of IP67, the electrical equipment will be very well protected against dust and water – although there is an additional protection level for water if required, known as IP68.

This rating standard not only applies to equipment and enclosures, but also connectors, which can be vulnerable to dust and water and, if not properly sealed, can compromise the wider system.

If we were to compare IP65 vs. IP67, for example, we can see that they both have the same high level of dust protection, but the IP67 rated equipment or enclosure is two levels higher in terms of water or liquid protection.

What IP rating is waterproof?

All IP6x ratings indicate some level of protection against water coming into contact with the equipment, apart from a ‘0’ value that offers no protection. But it is only from IP67 onwards where the equipment will be designed and tested to be submersed in water for a defined period. IP ratings below ‘7’ relate to water drops, splashing, spraying and water jets.

The purpose of the IP rating system – developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) – has been to add clarity to marketing terms such as ‘waterproof’ or ‘water-resistant’. While some companies may market their products as ‘rugged’ or ‘waterproof’, often the reality is that they cannot pass the tests required for a high IP rating.

The IP rating system therefore gives clarity to customers and allows manufacturers to develop equipment that can be tested uniformly to international standards.

GRiD’s approach to IP67?

Here at GRiD we follow the IP rating test standards closely and ensure that all our products are fully sealed to pass the required IEC tests for IP67, and even in some cases IP68 (see the GRiDCASE 1510).

GRiD designs and manufactures all of its product from the ground up, and that allows us the freedom to select the correct materials, seals and assembly methods that are required for fully sealed military laptops and computers.

As an example, the military circular connectors we use are sealed, whether connected or not, and we also use aluminium dust caps with Teflon covered wire rope to avoid any breakage. Typically, commercial rugged computers use commercial sockets with fragile rubber dust caps that can break over time making them susceptible to water and dust ingress.

There are also no holes in our laptops and tablets for airflow, as all the cooling is done through the aluminium chassis. While still fully sealed, we can offer accessible door panels for the removal of storage devices and hot-swap batteries.

This experience in providing fully sealed military computers with high IP ratings ultimately gives our customers the peace of mind in knowing that we have put our laptops and tablets through a rigorous test process before they are delivered to frontline users.

If you are interested in learning more about how we ensure our devices are sealed to IP67 and the benefits this brings to the user, give our team a call on +44 (0)1628 810 230 or drop an email to sales@griduk.com