Protection Even When Space is Limited.
Conformal coating involves applying a material to electronic circuitry to protect it against moisture, extreme temperatures, dust, and corrosive materials that would otherwise cause damage to the electronics. First, the type of protection required is determined and a criterion is developed for the coating process. The non-coating areas need to be masked off, then the coating is applied and cured. The product is unmasked and repairs and touch-ups are made. The insulating properties reduce PCB conductor spacing and can eliminate the need for complex enclosures. Conformal coating is often used in aerospace, automotive, military, industrial, and marine applications.
Types of conformal coating:
- Acrylic resin is affordable and easily applied and removed but has low chemical and solvent resistance and is thus not suitable for harsh environments
- Silicone resin is often chosen for electronics that will be in extreme temperature ranges but is the most difficult to remove and can have localized repairs only
- Urethane resin has good humidity, chemical, and mechanical wear resistance but is hard to remove, runs the risk of peeling, and can take a long time to cure
- Epoxy resin is great in harsh environments but is difficult to remove and a soldering iron is required for rework and repair
- Parylene has the highest insulating strength, is the best solvent and can handle the most extreme temperatures of all coatings but is not ideal for long-term exposure outdoors and requires specialized equipment to apply
- Fluorocarbon conformal coatings are very thin and provide minimal moisture resistance and fair chemical resistance but can be rubbed off easily
Conformal coating processes:
- Manual (applied with a brush or dispense needle)
- Non-aerosol (automated mechanical pumped)
- Vapor deposition
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