Any good workman will inform you that the right tool is essential for the right job. Protection for electrical equipment such as computers is no different, selecting the right enclosure for the right area is essential too.
Industrial computer enclosures can be built and designed for any task in any area no matter how extreme the conditions but in selecting an enclosure it is important to establish the type of conditions the PC enclosure will need to work in.
Here are some of the types of conditions enclosures are often tasked to work in and the type of enclosure that is best suited for that environment.
Dust filled areas:
Dust is one of the most common causes for computer failure, even relatively low dust areas such as offices produce enough dust that it will clump together in the base of a standard computer enclosure. Excessive dust and the problem increases with computers overheating due to the insulation of the dust whilst hard drives and other moving parts can get clogged. Dust also has a habit of short circuiting boards particularly if it contains conductive material such as metals.
To combat the conditions caused by dust then the most cost effective solution is a standard mild steel IP54 industrial PC enclosure. IP54 describes the European standard for ‘ingress protection’. The two digits describe the protection offered by the enclosure for both dust (first digit) and fluids (second digit). In the USA a different system governing enclosure protection is issued which is know as NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association).
An IP 54 or its equivalent NEMA 4 enclosure will offer adequate dustproof protection for most environments however for some extreme areas where dust has the potential to cause explosions then other European guidelines known as ATEX describe the ability for an enclosure to operate safely in an ATEX ‘zone’.