Conformal Coating

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Conformal Coating

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Conformal coating is a specialty polymeric film forming product that protects circuit boards, components, and other electronic devices from adverse environmental conditions. These coatings conform to the irregular landscape of the PCB providing increased dielectric resistance, operational integrity and protection from corrosive atmospheres, humidity, heat, fungus, and airborne contamination such as dirt and dust.

Coatings contain Opti/Scan (except LED Coating) to allow quality control inspection of coverage and evenness of the coating on a PCB. A coated board can be passed under a standard, low-cost UV (short-wave black) light and the coated areas glow. The brighter the glow, the thicker the coating.

Techspray offers a variety of conformal coating formulas to match field and engineering requirements and is IPC CC 830B, MIL-I-46058C and UL94-0 qualified or rated. Specifications generally depend on the type of protection needed: e.g. thermal, moisture, and static resistance.

Application methods:

  • Dip: High volume method to fully coat boards. Thickness of the final coating is controlled by viscosity and withdrawal speed from the pot.
  • Conformal Coating Spray:  Computer controlled selective spray systems, eliminate the need for masking. Higher viscosity than full coverage sprayer is generally needed (70-200 cps) to create precise edge definition and prevent splattering
  • Manual Application:  Aerosol and brushing are generally used for small production runs, rework and repair. If using for rework, the aerosol needs to be compatible with the original coating.
Licron Crystal ESD-Safe Coating Licron Crystal ESD Safe Coating
Permanent, clear ESD safe coating- Versatile, crystal clear urethane coating that adheres to metal, plastic, and most other surfaces. The end result is compliant with ANSI/ESD­S20.20, which prevents static damage to sensitive electronic components.

FAQ's

How do you remove conformal coating when repairing or reworking a PCB?

Techspray offers the TraceTech Conformal Coating Remover Pen that allows you to remove a tight area of coating around a repair area without affecting the rest of the PCB. You first saturate the tip by tapping it lightly on a surface, which opens the valve and releases solvent. Holding the tip down may oversaturate it, which could lead to solvent flowing into unintended areas.

Is conformal coating conductive?

No, conformal coatings are non-conductive, or insulative. The job of conformal coating is to isolate the PCB or components from the environment and even components (i.e. high voltage or high heat) from the rest of the board. To do that properly, a coating must have electrically insulating properties with as high of a dielectric withstand voltage (or strength) as possible.

Is conformal coating waterproof?

While conformal coatings can offer a moisture resistant layer of protection, most cannot be considered waterproof. Even if applied heavily, most coatings are semi-permeable, so allow some amount of moisture through. Conformal coating can, however, prevent current leakage or corrosion due to ambient moisture. To truly waterproof electronics, you either need gasketing to seal the electronics within the packaging or cover the electronics with a waterproof encapsulant or potting compound.

Is conformal coating necessary?

Whether or not conformal coating is required depends on the environment the electronic device will operate in, the reliability requirement of the device, and the cost of failure, whether in dollars or human lives. Typical consumer devices are generally not coated because cost is one of the top driving factors, and a coating step certainly adds to that. Devices operating in harsh environments may require coating, and the type of stresses and contamination will point to the best option, whether that is acrylic resin (AR), silicone resin (SR), urethane resin (UR), or some other type of protection. Aviation, aerospace, and medical devices often require coating because of the mission critical nature of these applications.

Articles

The Essential Guide to Conformal Coating
With the increased popularity of miniaturized electronics and circuitry, conformal coating use has skyrocketed to solidify its relevance in a wealth of modern PCB-related applications . Choosing the ideal type of coating and application methods for your electronics is crucial. However, processing th...
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How To Use Spot Mask for Wave Soldering & Conformal Coating
Say you’re a contract manufacturer of printed circuit boards (PCBs), and your customer just made an engineering change that leaves several thru-hole vias open. If you run it through the wave as is, and solder over the vacant holes, the PCB won’t function properly. How do you keep the pro...
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3 Testing Standards That Separate Conformal Coating From Shellac
As an electronic manufacturing services (EMS) supplier, you are required to think on your feet and are forced to gain new capabilities as your customers’ specification change. This can be daunting, especially when you try to bring conformal coating manufacturing in-house and make material and ...
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How To Identify and Cure The Top 7 Conformal Coating Defects
One of the most common customer support calls we receive is to solve conformal coating application issues. Given the number of variables involved in a conformal coating process (e.g. coating formula, viscosity, substrate variations, temperature, air mix, contamination, evaporation, humidity, et...
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