Protecting Computers from Airborne Debris

Most computer administrators are aware of the problems dust can cause to computers and other electrical equipment. Even in the relatively dust-free environments of our offices and homes dust will permeate a computer enclosure and congregate inside forming so called ‘dust bunnies.’

In most environments a (very) careful vacuum of the inside of a computer will get rid of most the dust and as the particles that constitute the dust in our offices and homes tends to be benign substances such as skin cells or carpet fluff then this small piece of maintenance will possibly all that is required to keep a computer running healthily.

However, in many environments dust and airborne debris can have calamitous results. High levels of dust can cause severe over heating and can clog filters and drives. Even worse is that dust in some areas such as industrial environments contains hazardous particles. These can be conductive which will cause a short in a computer’s circuit board and even worse they can cause explosions!

Many airborne particles – quite surprisingly innocuous substances like food powders – can actually spark and ignite when there is enough volume. For this reason computers in these areas not only have to keep the dust out but also have to insulate and potential sparks from the electrical device.

Industrial computer enclosures are used in almost every conceivable industry from food manufacturers to engineering plants; they are the most flexible way of using computers in dust-filled environments.

There are of course other methods in using IT in dust environments. Industrial computers have been around for decades and these machines are designed to be sealed to prevent dust penetration. They are however, quite expensive and there design offers little flexibility if the machine breaks down meaning a service engineer has to be called and whatever operation the computer is controlling will have to stop.

Conventional computers covered in dust covers are another solution but these offer limited and only temporary solutions to the problem and can’t protect from explosive risks.

Industrial computer enclosures on the other hand can e built to ATEX guidelines ensuring they are safe to use in combustible areas. They are also built to European IP ratings which denote the protection that the enclosure can afford. An industrial computer enclosure built to IP54 standard will mean the enclosed computer can operate in almost any dust-filled environment without fear of dust infiltration inside the enclosure.

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