The Degrading Factor of Dust on Electronic Health

June 9, 2021

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Composition of dust and its effect on equipment lifecycle

Want to keep your hardware in overall maximum working capacity? Dust can degrade your electronics over time thus leading to unwanted repairs or replacement of the unit overtime. This could cause your production line to suddenly stop working resulting in accidents. So, what exactly does dust do to your electronics? Let us look at the overall composition of dust, how dust affects your electronics, and then also take into consideration the type of environments that would benefit from enclosures that protect your PC, laptop, server, printers, and other hardware.

What Is Dust?

Dust is composed of combination of minerals and heavy metals that gradually degrade the lifetime of the wires and microchips and a large amount of research has been devoted to this topic. It is always present in the air and consists of solids suspended in the air. The chemical composition of dust is a combination of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, silicon, oxygen and other minerals. In a research project conducted by the University of Maryland, dust can increase temperature, trap humidity, cause the electromagnet current to skip causing an electrical circuit failure. Your printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) while having become more advanced over time have become more sensitive to dust particles dimension-wise.  With increased friction, corrosion and wear over time will occur on the circuitry. 

University of Maryland Dust Study

In this aforementioned study by the University of Maryland, different samples of dust collected from different floors inside and outside of a building were placed on various circuitry boards. The dust particles were suspended on the surfaces and then tested with an AC impedance spectroscopy (IS). The conductivity was an apparent decrease for indoor and outdoor dust. The results concluded that indoor dust contains less density than outdoor dust but remains more water-soluble salts and is more sensitive to the relative humidity and was more prone to moisture induced failure. Compared to outdoor dust which had higher concentrations of heavy metals and had higher acidic properties which is a substantial degrading factor.   In general, the finer dust particles found from more advanced filtration filters in air conditioners unfortunately produce a layer of dust that is more susceptible to water absorption since finer dust has more surface area vs. the dust that is found outside of facilities.  The reliability of your electronic circuitry is vastly diminished by the presence of dust was the foregone conclusion of this scientific study. 

Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturing produces a fair number of environmental hazards.  Particularly in Concrete Manufacturing.  Dust near a cement factory would certainly contribute to the PCBA degradation over time due to the chemical composition of cement.  In skin, direct contact with cement can cause human tissue damage, abrasions in the lungs, as well as allergic reactions and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns in the skin.

A rule of thumb to follow would be if OSHA rules and gear are required in your workspace, then your electronics need the same amount of protection as well.

Why Your Hardware May Be Susceptible?

As technology progresses, the printed circuit boards (PCB’s) are being produced lighter and thinner.  With more environmental contaminants in the air, the humidity on the surfaces of these more advanced PCB’s becomes trapped with layers of dust covering the surface.  Dust will always be present in our atmosphere, and with the temperature of the Earth on a gradual increase, the need to have an enclosed ventilated workstation enclosure, mobile enclosures, and server enclosures are a vital part of factory environments.

picture of a dirty computer

Industries that Benefit from Workstation, Printer, and Server Enclosures

Chemical, concrete, machine, fiber glass, agricultural, textiles, wood/paper manufacturers, and even homes with pets, (dander and hair) could benefit from workstation, server, and printer enclosures.  Hazardous situations could arise if the electronics suddenly stopped working.  Keeping the computer circuit board as well as the fans, graphics cards, and ports free from particulates will extend the lifetime of your electronics and keep the software running smoothly so that your business or hobby flourishes. Workstation enclosures, server enclosures, and mobile workstation enclosures are smart investments towards preserving the considerable cost in your hardware. Dust Free PC evaluates your hardware and customizes your electronics with a filtered or non-filtered enclosure and also includes a 5 year warranty against defects and workmanship. 

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Kimberly Klark