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I’ve been in this industry for a long time. If I’m honest, though, I never gave much thought to conformal coatings. In my defense, I spent most of my career on design tools and PCB fabrication; conformal coating specifications weren’t my bailiwick. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that regard, which is all the more reason for this issue to exist. In this issue, we look at how the new manufacturing demands are driving change and innovation in conformal coating products, systems, and technologies. It’s the voices of those experts who set up this issue best.
John Fix from Taiyo America says of the industry, “Of course, technology can change significantly in a short period of time as well, which is not a perception; it’s a reality that we see every day.” The changes in the designs we build, coupled with the push to put electronics in harsher and harsher environments, continues to raise awareness for increased reliability techniques, including conformal coating.
Nordson ASYMTEK’s Camille Sybert adds, “As we start to see electronics in a variety of different applications, and as we incorporate some more into things like automobiles, then the need for higher reliability in these electronic products increases significantly.”
Electrolube’s Phil Kinner writes, "As assemblies become more densely populated, and housing/casing designs become more permeable to save weight, the use of conformal coatings is essential to protect the assembly from its operating environment and ensure acceptable reliability for the application intended, especially when operating in hostile environments.”
While conformal coatings may have been something of an afterthought at the front of the design process, that can no longer be the case. Conformal coatings are now a critical part of any board assembly that might be subjected to challenging conditions. But coatings can also contribute to increased mean time between failure in any conditions, even environmentally controlled environments.
Sybert amplifies that point by describing how conformal coatings “serve as an insulation layer that makes sure that the different components stay focused and dedicated to what it is that they’re doing as opposed to getting in trouble and causing premature failures on boards.”