IP68 ratings are in the bag

Paul Boughton

The IP, or ingress protection, rating of an enclosure is key to its suitability for certain applications. The more protection from dust and moisture ingress that an application requires, the higher the IP rating. Often as the IP rating increases so too does the unit cost of the enclosure; for design engineers and OEMs who require IP68 protection this can affect the profitability of a new product. Spelsberg UK offers a silicone gel solution which can be applied to almost any enclosure quickly and without any mess.

Manufacturing an enclosure which offers complete protection from water ingress, even when permanently submerged in depths of up to 10 metres, requires high quality, specialist components. Hinges, mounting brackets, seals and suitable cable glands must all be specially designed with the task in mind which can drive up the cost of the final enclosure. Additionally, costs are often incurred on-site as many such enclosures require additional tooling etc. to guarantee protection, which means the installation time is far greater.

To avoid these additional expenses, some OEMs and installers may choose to use silicone gel to increase the protection of enclosures with a lower IP rating and therefore avoid paying a premium. This cost effective solution is easily sourced and poses no risk through skin contact, meaning that it can be mixed on-site quickly. Once poured into the enclosure it is completely non-absorbent and non-conductive, meaning that the cabling entering the enclosure is protected from external influence, as well as being stable at most temperatures normally experienced in non-specialist environments.

Silicone gel isn't a suitable solution for all applications, if regular maintenance or upgrades will be required, for example, then the silicone will have to be removed and re-poured at each visit, which can become time consuming and incur additional regular costs. However, for the majority of outdoor applications where it is suitable not only can it result in lower costs it can also be more reliable. A standard enclosure is simply installed as normal and then the gel is poured. So long as the enclosure is properly filled the cabling entering the enclosure will be protected from water ingress even in the event of seal failure.

One drawback that is often mentioned when discussing silicone gel as an IP enhancer is the perceived issues of contamination and mess during the mixing and filling stages. Many installers are worried that the many airborne contaminants found on a busy work site can easily become mixed into the gel which would compromise its protection, they also feel that the process can be messy and time is lost having to clean up after themselves.

The Abox Magic GT gel solution is supplied with a handy mixing bag which keeps the two gel components separate until they are ready to be mixed. The separator is then easily removed and the contents can be mixed in the bag, eliminating the risk of contamination. The gel can be quickly poured from the bag into the installed enclosure via a cable entry point; a funnel may be used to minimise the risk of spillage. Once poured, the gel will set in minutes and the entry point can be sealed using a discrete plug. The GT gel is based on cast resin technology and is halogen-free, it has been tested to DIN EN60 529 and is proven to offer IP68 protection for depths up to 15 metres.

For more information, visit www.spelsberg.co.uk

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