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What are the main methods for cleaning contamination from a printed circuit board before conformal coating?

Successful cleaning of electronic circuit board assemblies can be achieved by a variety of techniques.

These include:

Why use masking boots in a conformal coating process?

Custom masking boots can provide protection for many different types of components on a circuit board from ingress of coatings.

In fact, they can form an integral part of a full masking solution in all of the conformal coating application techniques including batch and selective robotic spraying (as an alternative to difficult technical programming), vertical and horizontal dipping and chemical vapour deposition (CVD) processes such as Parylene and atomic layer deposition (ALD).

Do you need UL qualification for your conformal coating?

In conformal coating, there are many International, National and internal company standards for manufacture of coating materials, processing and inspection.

The UL standards (and qualification) are used to qualify a conformal coating material to a certain specification. Therefore, it is a material manufacture standard only.

The question of whether a conformal coating actually needs the UL qualification to the standard is down to whether the test regime is relevant to the user of the conformal coating.

Why may I have to clean my circuit board before conformal coating?

Whether to clean circuit boards before conformal coating is a well discussed problem.

However, I thought it may be interesting to summarize the reasons for considering the cleaning process before coating as it can be critical to the success of the product in the field.

First, consider that cleaning of a printed circuit board (PCB) before applying conformal coating is normally done for two key reasons:

These are:

Coating LEDs with Molecular Vapor Deposition (MVD)

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Coating LEDs to protect them from the harsh environments they are placed in is big business.

The volume of manufactured LEDs globally is growing at an exponential rate and there is no end in sight.

However, the challenges to protect the LEDs from long-term failure are not small especially in an outdoor environment.

What application methods are available for applying conformal coating?

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Conformal coatings can be applied to printed circuit board assemblies in many different ways in the production environment.

Listed below are the common methods of applying the conformal coating materials.

What standards should I use for my conformal coating?

There are many international, national and internal company standards for conformal coating processing and inspection.

The role of the standard is to give a guideline for process control and ultimately reliability of the circuit board.

The International inspection standards for conformal coatings used by the majority of companies are the IPC A 610 Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies or the IPC –HDBK-830 Conformal Coating Handbook.

The first gives some minor references that help for specifying acceptance criteria.

The ABCs of Plasma Coating

What is plasma cleaning?

Plasma cleaning is a process that is gaining more popularity in thin film applications due its highly effective performance on cleaning and modifying surfaces.

What is Plasma?

Plasma is an energy-rich gas state that can be used to modify the surface of a product to improve its performance. This modification can be improving the adhesion of a surface or changing the surface characteristics.

Plasma technology is based on a simple physical principle.

How do conformal coating masking boots save money in your production process?

Masking materials such as tapes, dots and liquid latex can be highly effective in protecting components from ingress of conformal coating.

However, the masking process itself can be labor intensive, difficult and time consuming. It can add a lot to the total conformal coating costs.

Using reusable, custom masking boots offer an alternative solution.

These pre-formed shapes work by fitting simply over the components to be shielded. This process quickly replaces the masking tape and the process time is significantly reduced.

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