Thinking about starting or buying a business that produces consumer electronics, medical devices, automotive parts, or aerospace, military, and defence equipment? If so, it’s time to learn about conformal coating, a protective chemical coating that can be applied to electronic parts and devices to protect them from the elements. Read on to get started.
Why Use Conformal Coating?
Before discussing the three methods for applying a conformal coating, let’s take a look at why business owners should care about it, to begin with.
The most important thing to know about conformal coating is that it can protect against all sorts of contamination, including issues with moisture, mold, salt spray, dust, dirt, and corrosion.
It’s primarily used to electrically insulate circuit boards since it is non-conductive, but can also be used in other applications.
Find conformal coating offerings online to see how other companies are unlocking their potential.
These products work by creating a protective barrier that keeps out debris and chemicals and even protects against vibration without sealing off circuit boards and other electronic parts completely.
Instead, they let in air without letting in potential contaminants to provide insulation, improve product performance in harsh environmental conditions, enhance product reliability, and provide vibration resistance.
Application Strategy #1: Dipping
The best way to apply conformal coatings in high volumes is to dip parts in a solution made of parylene, acrylic, polyurethane, silicone, or epoxy.
Each of these materials is best suited for different applications, so ask a specialist for help with deciding which one will be the best fit.
Dipping as an application method ensures that the coating penetrates to all parts of the component, but only if it is performed correctly.
Masking must be perfect to prevent leaking, and dipping isn’t suitable for all products.
Many PCB boards, for example, cannot be coated by dipping them.
Manufacturers that want to use the dipping process to coat their products should keep this application in mind while designing them.
It’s a good solution for high-volume manufacturing so, in some cases, it may be worth the extra effort to ensure that the products can be dipped without incident.
Application Strategy #2: Brushing
Brushing is only suitable for low-volume manufacturing projects and it must be performed by highly trained individuals who know exactly how to get the coat even to provide a suitable level of protection.
Brushing is used more frequently to finish or repair existing units that have already been treated with conformal coating using a different method.
Application Strategy #3: Spraying
Spraying is the best application method for conformal coatings in low to medium volume manufacturing runs.
This versatile application method can be applied quickly and efficiently and while it still takes a good deal of skill, the spraying process is not as specialized of activity as brushing.
It involves using a dedicated spray booth or a spray gun to apply the coating as an aerosol.
After parts are sprayed, they need to be cured using oven drying, UV light, or air drying.
At that point, they’ll be ready to withstand just about anything nature or circumstance can throw at them.
The Bottom Line
Conformal coatings offer an extra layer of protection against corrosion, moisture damage, dust, contaminants, and even vibration.
It’s a specialized process that requires a good deal of knowledge and training, so manufacturers need to work with experts in the field who know exactly what they are doing.