By Peter Vowell
While you may be able to design and assemble a fully-functional IoT device, it will quickly wither and die without proper protection. There are a variety of environmental factors to consider when it comes to electronics, including heat, humidity, dirt, and sulfur. Heat
Heat is the most obvious of the offenders here. Your electrical components won’t appreciate the warming summer sun as much as you do, and ensuring enclosures have proper ventilation is critical. It is also important to remember that heat isn’t necessarily only taking effect when a device reaches critical operating temperature. Running a device just below the failure temperature for extended periods of time can significantly reduce the lifetime of a product. As such, it is important to consider proper heat dissipation from the beginning, and not just when it becomes an issue.
HumidityPeople are often skeptical about the notion that humidity can damage their electronics. This may stem from the fact that it’s a hard concept to grasp - you can see the sun shining and directly feel the heat, but you can’t see or taste water molecules in the air. Nevertheless, they are there, and humidity does have real and lasting effects on electronics. Mainly, it can cause quickened corrosion of exposed connections on a PCB or sensor, drastically decreasing the lifetime of your custom device.Dirt
Dirt and grime should be considered whenever constructing electronics, but is especially prevalent in an industrial setting. The buildup of dust and filth drastically increases when exposed to sawdust, metals manufacturing, or even just consistently large groups of people. Protection against these conditions is an absolute necessity, and should be accounted for early on during the design phase of a project.
Security ConcernsDepending on the specific application of your homemade device, you may have another concern: tampering. It’s a viewpoint many forget to consider, but is nevertheless a very real possibility. Say you have a device that allows you to remotely dispense food for your pet, placed in a cabinet away from harm. In this case device safety isn’t too much of a concern. Now imagine a different scenario: A small business with a custom IoT system to automatically lock and unlock smart door locks depending on the time of day and who is entering. Suddenly security of your system takes a much larger priority. You will have to weigh the options given your specific intended functionality, but a simple enclosed casing can go along way in preventing accidental as well as purposeful damage to your IoT device.
The SolutionThe obvious solution to both environmental and security concerns is a proper housing for your electrical components. There are two different ways to house your project: build your own, or purchase an off-the-shelf housing solution. Constructing your own case may initially seem like the right call, but it can get tricky fast. It requires knowledge of a three-dimensional modeling software, and possession of the software itself. Then the product has to be 3D printed, which is often costly and time consuming if done out of house. In the end, the much simpler and cost effective solution is to order a premade electronics housing product. Companies like Italtronichave a variety of shapes and sizes to choose from, ranging from more basic resin enclosures to wall-mounting enclosures, and even have options for rail DIN applications. The internet of things is bigger and more diverse than it has ever been. The market has grown to the point where custom IoT solutions for industrial users are the smart choice. With the integration into the industrial sector however, electronics devices require protection from a variety of environmental impacts, ranging from heat to regional atmospheric corrosives. Choosing a proper electronic housing is a crucial part of the design, and off-the-shelf housing solutions help to ensure your custom IoT designs are protected regardless of the environmental conditions.