Why selecting a conformal coating can cost you a fortune!

Article Author

  • Dr Lee Hitchens, Nexus

Choosing a coating to protect your product should be easy.

After all, most conformal coatings do the job right in most cases.

However, what about the times when the wrong conformal coating has been selected and the product isn’t protected correctly?

Or, the conformal coating production team can’t use the conformal coating in a practical way with their equipment and the board design to meet your coating requirements and its a disaster on the shop floor?

Does it happen?

Yes and more often than you think!

Can these problems be avoided?

Of course they can.

You can do this be applying a holistic approach to conformal coating selection.

What is the holistic approach to conformal coating?

Choosing a conformal coating process is a complicated and involved process usually balancing a number of trade-offs and compromises.

This is because of the three major parts of the complete process that can offer different options and create difficult choices.

These parts are:

  • The conformal coating material
  • The application method
  • The circuit board design

When you consider these three parts you have to balance them to create the best process solution that suits your requirements.

This is the holistic approach to conformal coating process selection.

So, what should you do first?

To identify the best conformal coating process there are several key factors that you need to balance that if you are lucky will add up to at least one sensible process choice.

Nexus identified 10 key factors that influence the selection of the material.

These are:

  1. Temperature Operating Range
  2. International, Customer or National Standards
  3. Environmental Considerations of the circuit board
  4. Requirement to Rework the Conformal Coating
  5. Conformal coating material type
  6. Application Process Considerations
  7. Curing the conformal coating
  8. National, State, Regional Legislation and Insurance
  9. Supplier Performance
  10. Price

Now, depending on who you are in the process this will change the priority of each of the factors.

But, each of them may be important in the final decision.

Further, examining each of these factors will allow an insight into the complexity of selecting a conformal coating material.

If you are lucky will add up to at least one sensible conformal coating process choice.

If you are unlucky then you will need to compromise and find a solution.

If you are really unlucky it can be extremely costly on the shop floor for the engineers to do their job correctly and coat the board to the desired state.

Does it happen?

Of course it does and I have seen first hand the cry of the production engineer when he asks how the wrong conformal coating material was chosen for the board he is trying to coat.

Don’t let it happen to you.

Apply the holistic approach to conformal coating now.


Dr Lee Hitchens, Nexus Conformal Coating ConsultantDr Lee Hitchens is the author of the Nexus eBook and a regular contributor to conformal coating topics.

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