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The Aluminum Housing of IoT Connectivity Devices

#teltonikanetworks, #product, #iot

May 10, 2023

Many of the real-life use cases of Teltonika Networks networking devices point out their rugged and durable aluminum housing. What we don’t usually discuss is why we chose Aluminum and what factors must be considered in making this choice. In this article, we delve into the surface of our IoT products and answer the question: why Aluminum?

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The housing or casing of IoT connectivity devices is a critical component of their design. It serves to protect the networking device from environmental factors such as dust, vibrations, extreme temperatures, and more. It also protects against physical damage, which can damage or outright destroy the device. The housing also provides a platform for mounting and securing the device, ensuring that it remains in place and functioning properly.

These are the broad strokes that guide the decisions involving IoT device housing. Of course, there is a lot more to consider within each of these areas, but the most basic consideration is the core material the housing is made of.

METAL VS. PLASTIC FOR IoT CONNECTIVITY DEVICES

Not all materials offer the same level of durability or heat resistance. Generally speaking, there are two main types of base materials appropriate to the applications of networking devices: plastic and metal. 


Plastic is lightweight, easy to mold into shape, and particularly inexpensive. However, it doesn’t offer reliable durability and protection against environmental factors. It is also not environmentally friendly. Metal, on the other hand, offers great protection and durability, especially when considering the challenges of industrial applications. The downside is that metal is fairly heavy and more difficult to mold into shape. 


At Teltonika Networks, the durability and protection of our devices are a top priority. While our products could theoretically be more lightweight if they were encased in plastic, we are confident that metal is the best choice for industrial use.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT METAL FOR IoT CONNECTIVITY DEVICES

Of the 118 elements in the periodic table, around 95 of them are metals. The number is not exact, as there is no universally-accepted definition of what counts as a “metal”. Different metals are useful in different ways, and alloys combining several metals are also commonly used.


When it comes to the housing of IoT connectivity devices, there are plenty of contenders to consider. Stainless steel, zinc alloys, titanium, magnesium, and many others. Each metal or alloy ranks differently on a number of important physical properties and factors we take into account. 


Included among these are weight, durability, thermal conductivity, how easy the metal is to physically work with when designing and producing the device, and resistance to heat, corrosion, and electromagnetic interference. In addition to that, different metals come with different costs, and ensuring the cost-effectiveness of our products is also an important consideration. 


Ultimately, Teltonika Networks chooses aluminum for the housing of its IoT networking devices because it is the optimal choice when all factors are balanced against one another. Aluminum doesn’t disappoint on any of the aforementioned factors – and even stands out in some. 


An important feature that gives aluminum an edge is its thermal conductivity, as keeping a connectivity device cool in industrial environments is paramount. In fact, the grill-like pattern that you can find on our devices’ casing, for example, is an additional measure for keeping them cool. 

BEYOND A STRONG FOUNDATION FOR IoT CONNECTIVITY DEVICES

While aluminum is the most common material for the housing of our networking devices, we don’t consider it the de facto standard. Teltonika Networks is always open to other materials as long as they satisfy the core criteria for quality IoT devices without impacting their prices too negatively. 


For example, if the needs of any given device are not sufficiently met with aluminum, we would simply use a different material. This was the case for the RUTXR1 industrial router. This particular networking device was designed to be rack-mountable and installed in server cabinets. This meant it needed larger dimensions and more durability than normal. As a result, RUTXR1 is fully made of steel. 


While aluminum, or steel in the case of the RUTXR1, is the metal that makes up the core housing, this doesn’t mean that additional parts of the housing can’t be made of other materials. Plastic, for example, is more useful than metal for niche technical design elements. This is why the wall-mounting holes you can find in many of our connectivity devices are made of plastic. 


Teltonika Networks does avoid using certain materials, such as glue and other adhesives. This is because they make the device more difficult to assemble and would also make our products more expensive.


At the end of the day, every time Teltonika Networks designs a new connectivity device, we design its housing using the materials that best fit that new device. In most cases, aluminum is chosen time after time, but that isn’t always the case. What is always the case is that a great deal of careful thought and consideration went into ensuring that every single device in our growing product portfolio is encased in the best housing to meet its needs – and yours. 

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