The Basics of Waterproof Enclosure Design

Enclosure Design

Making sure your electronic devices are safe when you’re going to be near water or underwater is no doubt a top priority. While some electronic devices are designed to be waterproof, others aren’t. That’s why it’s important that you achieve a waterproof enclosure design that helps keep water out and your electronic devices functioning properly no matter what.

Such devices can be expensive to replace, so learning this essential skill is priceless. Follow the steps below to learn how to accomplish a waterproof enclosure design.

What You’ll Need

1) Gasket Sealant

A gasket sealant is a type of adhesive glue, paste or spay that holds mechanical joints in place. It’s used to reduce the possibility of mechanical breakdown on a machine because parts tend to rub against one another. It’s also used to prevent fluid leakages. The ideal waterproof enclosure design incorporates gasket sealants or another type of sealant, such as o-rings.

If you’re looking for a high-quality gasket seal or sealing device, Apple Rubber is a great place to start looking because they make their seals with fluorocarbon (Viton), a high-grade material that withstands high temperatures.

2) Static O-Ring Seals

O-rings are used to help seal and repair things. They’re the most widely used type of seal. O-rings are economical to produce and easy to install. Static o-rings tend to last longer than dynamic o-ring seals because dynamic o-rings are constantly moving.

3) Dynamic O-Ring Seals

Dynamic o-rings need more lubrication than their static o-ring counterparts. The material used to manufacture dynamic o-rings is tougher than the materials used to manufacture static o-rings.

What You Should Know

There are three systems that rate how rugged or waterproof a product is: IP Rating, NEMA Rating and MIL-SPEC.

IP Rating System

Ingress Protection (IP) ratings are used to judge how well a product’s sealing keeps water and solid objects out of electrical enclosures. Items are rated using the letters IP followed by two digits. The first number represents how protected an electronic device is against physical objects, such as dust and dirt. The second number represents how protected it is against liquids. The higher the numbers, the more protected your devices will be.

NEMA Rating System

NEMA stands for National Electrical Manufacturer Association, and the NEMA Rating system is used for electrical enclosures. NEMA ratings are usually reserved for industrial products and they go just a bit further than IP ratings. Before using the NEMA system, determine whether the product will be used indoors or outdoors, as well as whether it will be exposed to corrosive agents, oil and coolant. You should also determine whether it will be hosed down and what elements it’ll be exposed to.

MIL-SPEC Rating System

The MIL-SPEC rating system was developed by the military around the time of World War II. But these days, the MIL-SPEC is used by the US Department of Defense and private companies who want durable products. The MIL-SPEC ratings are used to test a product’s manufacturing, maintenance, materials and design. The goal is to demonstrate that the product can withstand its environment and takes into account things like:

  • Humidity
  • Rain
  • Altitude
  • Explosive atmosphere
  • Fungus
  • Temperature
  • Salt fog
  • Dust
  • Sand
  • Vibration
  • Transport
  • Leakage
  • Acceleration

The MIL-SPEC rating system is always evolving so that products can be continuously upgraded.

Getting Started

Now that you know a little bit about the design of waterproof enclosure, you can determine what you need to start designing your own for your electronic devices. As long as you understand the IP Rating system, the NEMA Rating System and the MIL-SPEC, and you find high-quality sealants like gasket sealants or o-rings, you’ll be on your way to waterproof enclosure design that keeps water, dust and other substances from penetrating your electronic devices and ruining them.

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