Conformal coating is protective chemical material coating applied after the final SMT PCB assembly or through-hole assembly process. Coatings are comprised of 5 different types, Acrylic, Epoxy, Urethane, Silicone and Parylene resins. Applying the coatings to a PCB board assembly can be done by hand spray, robotic spray, brush or dipping. The coating acts as an additional dielectric layer that provides protection due to environmental and mechanical stresses, such as thermal extremes, chemicals, dust, salt fog, abrasions, and moisture. In a PCB assembly that has close spacing of conductive pathways or close spacing of components the coating will help minimize dendrite growth over a period of time that causes shorting.
The method of application will depend on the customer requirements of the turnkey pcb assembly, but PNC prefers spray method for consistency in overall coating thickness. There are often select components on a pcb board assembly that will not be required to be coated. The traditional way is to block out or mask the selected components with tape. This is time consuming, costly and a possibility that the component can be damaged on the SMT assembly when removing. The robotic method can be programmed accurately to spray around the parts thus ensuring no component damage from masking and maintain a repeatable coating thickness.
When choosing a conformal coating for your turnkey pcb assembly, there are many manufacturers to choose from. The following are a few that we work with, Dymax, HumiSeal, Dow Corning, Hysol, Loctite, and Huntsman. Based on your application and environment of your PCB assembly, choose the Type of coating that fits the PCB board assembly, by visiting their web pages to find the strengths and weaknesses.