Continuing our “Ruggedness” vibe this week we’re talking about dust!!

I bet you didn’t know that those tiny particles, largely made up of our own skin and the dreaded fluff from a couriers pocket, can be a right pain when it comes to your mobile device!

So just what is being dust proof about?

Dust can come in all shapes and sizes, you could work on a building site for example where brick dust or plaster is a threat, you could be in sandy conditions, windy ones or even need a device that doesn’t pick up dust due to being in some kind of clean environment.  Or perhaps you could be an engineer on the road where you could enter customers sites with all kinds of different scenarios.  In any event you’ll pick up dust everywhere you go and it can play havoc with your mobile computer.

Dust can get in the way of the LCD making the device hard to use, it can get under keys making them sticky and hard to press and it can also get inside a device and short out the main board in the worst cases.  If you don’t take dust seriously then you’re not being rugged!!

How the “IP” Rating helps

We already explained the IP rating in last weeks post about being waterproof and is actually used to measure both the water and dust-proof-ness of electronic equipment.  Whilst the 2nd digit in the rating aligns to the water element, the fist one is all about dust and how resilient a mobile device is to it.


What to spot on the spec sheets

Like water, we’re only actually interested in IP5x and IP6x.  OK you see the odd IP4X being mentioned but this isn’t really about dust, rather about not being able to poke about in an electronic device, so always look for an IP5X + device where rugged starts.

Now IP 54 used to be the standard for Ruggedness, but IP54 devices are not strictly dust proof.  All this means is the device might not be totally dust tight but it won’t let dust alter the way it works.  This means that’s the LCD will be dust tight but perhaps the keypad is designed in such a way that it might let dust pass underneath it.  IP6X devices are totally dust tight though and dust simply should not get it at all.

We’re seeing a shift now in IP65 being the new standard as manufacturing cases is a lot cheaper and easier to do to attain the highest ratings these days.

So in the next article we’ll be talking about dust a lot more, who’d have thought that dust could be such an interesting topic!!?

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

Related Posts

3 Responses

  1. apcsb

    Dave, an important thing to mention is that ruggedness is not defined by IP spec alone (or MIL-STD-810).
    That’s what numerous consumer and low-end enterprise device manufacturers do. As you mentioned yourself, IP67 sealing is now cheap. So cheap that you can see it on consumer phones (Sony, etc). I’ve seen many low-end vendors (Betatek, CipherLab, etc) claiming great IP specs, but realistically not being able to survive a year in a warehouse environment.

    Ruggedness is also about drop and tumble specs, how well the screen is protected from pens and nails, how well the keypad works, and how long markings stay on it, how well device survives abuse at different temperatures, and much much more. Even MIL-STD-810 compliance claim does not guarantee that, as it does not specify a rigid baseline and allows ‘tailoring’ tests, which is something many consumer and low-end vendors use.

    One has to look at greater combination of specs, and compare them to their intended use case (sometimes, IP42 is sufficient) to make an educated decision, instead of falling to the FUD.

    • ruggedandmobile

      Cheers for the comment Arsen, I can see your blog is very technical, it’s great.

      First quick point I’d say is that you’re totally right about other factors. It’s a ruggedness month here so we’re talking about drop, mil, design etc in their separate weeks later this month, rather than all together for change so we’ll cover everything off by the end of April.

      I’d agree whole heartedly about MIL testing. However from our own testing here we can say that it’s our opinion that it’s not just the lesser known brands that bend the rules, in fact we’d say that some lesser known brands try harder with their ruggedness and MIL testing and we help them here sometimes with customers often also involved. We’re not a web shop, we’re passionate about this and are very active when it comes to ruggedness.

      I’d also say that some very rugged devices in the past have been totally Achilles heeled by a design feature when it comes to ruggedness and devices that listen to feedback and improve are the ones we find are the best in customers hands.

      IP42 isn’t rugged, it’s never good enough for enterprise, I have to challenge that comment. However lets not take away from businesses who have great users that care for where they work and the device they use and where possibly a smartphone would work. However there are still all kinds of challenges there with device roadmaps and repair.

      Last point: Cipherlab’s CP60 has a 2000 tumble spec, 2.4M drop spec and IP67, similar story with the CP50 and CPT9200. Cipherlab of all brands shouldn’t really be cited here as they have a lot of pedigree, they are really lovely guys in Leeds, UK and their service has been great for us. They carry their GaneData brand but they would be the first to admit these are aimed at their value customers. They also have an IP chamber on site!