Reading time ( words)
Time flies! Almost exactly three years since I last sat in the boardroom of Electrolube's headquarters in the historic English market town of Ashby de la Zouch, in conversation with Managing Director Ron Jakeman and Marketing Manager Julia Vorley, under the watchful eye of Field Marshal Sir John French, First Earl of Ypres, gazing sternly from the portrait in pride of place at the head of the table.
“What’s new?” Apart from continuing growth in business globally for Electrolube’s specialist range of conformal coatings, potting and encapsulation compounds, thermal management solutions, contact lubricants, electronic cleaning products and maintenance and service aids, and their recently announced AS 9100 accreditation, Jakeman focused on the successful outcome of international collaboration between his R&D teams in the UK and China, resulting in a brand-new range of solvent-free UV-cured conformal coatings about to be launched at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO 2019.
Jakeman explained that, although Electrolube’s headquarters R&D centre is in the UK, there are counterpart R&D groups in India and China concentrating primarily on developing products to meet the specific requirements of their home markets, but maintaining close lines of communication in sharing their knowledge and experience. Electrolube have been manufacturing and developing products for over 15 years from their Chinese operating base in Beijing, and in 2017 opened a new R&D facility in Suzhou with its own specialist team of resin chemists and process technologists.
And it is as a result of technical liaison and collaboration between Suzhou and UK teams, under the guidance of Coatings Division global business and technical director Phil Kinner, that this new generation of conformal coatings is being introduced to the world market.
Jakeman commented: “The UVCL range covers all the bases! UVCL, UVCL-FC, UVCL-LED, UVCL-HV and UVCL-Gel offer a choice of viscosities to suit specific coating and sealing requirements, from low-viscosity to no-flow gel. All are VOC-free single-component coatings which cure on exposure to UV light, from conventional or LED sources, and when the topography of the assembly is such that certain areas are shadowed from UV, a secondary mechanism initiated by moisture ensures complete cure of the coating.”
“How long does the secondary cure take?” My question presented Jakeman with the opportunity to describe the two “killer products” in the range, UVCL-P and UVCL-X. “The moisture-initiated secondary cure tends to be fairly slow, and can take days or even weeks to reach completion. UVCL-P and UVCL-X use a unique chemical mechanism to guarantee a rapid secondary cure, 6 hours maximum, which gives a particular advantage in minimising work-in-progress and enabling quick-turn operation, as well as removing any doubt as to whether the cure is complete."
"That sounds like a major step forward in conformal coating technology!” I remarked. “Can you briefly describe the characteristics of these two products?” Jakeman responded: “Both formulations UV-cure with either 365nm LED lamps or ‘D’ bulb microwave technology. UVCL-P is a transparent, flexible coating with extreme thermal shock resistance and a maximum operating temperature of 150°C. It meets the requirements of UL94V-0 at thicknesses below 150 microns. By comparison, UVCL-X is green-opaque, again highly flexible and thermally shock resistant with a maximum operating temperature of 150°C. It meets the requirements of UL94V-0 at thicknesses below 300 microns and has a thermal conductivity 0.7 Watts per metre Kelvin for improved heat dissipation.”
I always enjoy my conversations with Electrolube people: real people you can talk to, who justify the company’s mission statement of striving to exceed their customers' expectations with innovative new products and the highest possible levels of customer service. This catch-up session with Ron Jakeman gave me a good insight into what can be achieved by the sharing of ideas and experiences gained from servicing different market demands in different geographical areas, and I have no doubt that the launch of this new conformal coating range will have an enormously successful outcome.