Machine and Process Management

Do you Speak Robustness-ish? IP Protection Levels

The Ingress Protection , a.k.a. IP level, is often mentioned as a key criteria for robustness, especially for pushbuttons. However, a lot of misconceptions are shared and some manufacturers are taking advantages of these to falsely promote their products. So do you really know what you are buying when you are choosing products based on their IP levels as indicated in the catalog ?

Here is a quick guide to IP levels and the 2 most current misconceptions.

An IP level is indicated by 2 digits, meaning IPab with a being an integer between 0 and 6 and b being another integer between 0 and 9.

The first digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts (e.g., electrical conductors, moving parts) and the ingress of solid foreign objects.

The second digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against harmful ingress of water.

The most 2 current misconceptions are :

  • IP67 is better than IP66: Wrong

Putting a product under the water and checking if it is still working after is not ensuring that the product will actually resist to powerful water jets. In fact, just take a simple example : a sheet of plastic. If you put it in the water, fine it will work after… put if you put it under a water jet, the plastic sheet may tear and therefore will not work anymore. Similarly an IP67 level product may survive an accidental immersion, but may be broken by water jet. It is possible to be IP67 and not be IP66 ! A “real” robust product should therefore indicate both IP66 and IP67 on its datasheet, else you should be worried.

By the way, similarly IP69 is not implying IP66… but we do have IPx0 to IPx6 that are in a graduation.

  • IP69K is the same thing as IP69 : Wrong

IP69K is defined since 1993 in the standard DIN 40050-9

IP69 is actually much younger and is defined since 2013 in the IEC 60529

There is small differences in the test methods, but an IP69K product can usually pass the IP69 tests… However, if your product is certified IP69K, it means that the manufacturer actually applied only a German standard. As more and more applicative standards are based on the IEC, you may wake up one morning to discover that your machine can now be sold only in Germany.

Just to be safe, it’s better to bet on a IP69 product, or even on a product which has the dual certification IP69 and IP69K.

Do you want to know more about pushbutton robustness ? Discover our landing page or have a look to our Secret of robustness video


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