Conformal coating: why it’s becoming a PCB necessity

Do your products’ bills-of-materials feature a line item for conformal coating? If not, they may soon, due to increasing expectations of integrity, performance and lifespan

Demand for devices that function in increasingly challenging environments, along with the desire for products to become smaller, means production techniques once reserved for extreme engineering and high tech, high spend projects are being applied to everyday products.

Wearable devices, environmental sensors, machinery components, home products, businesses and transport are all benefiting from advances in miniaturisation but with the expectation of no impact on operational integrity, performance and lifespan.

Conformal coating is one of the techniques now being applied to everyday electronic products. Once only used for products that required protection against extreme conditions (aerospace, deep-sea, etc), conformal coating is now used to protect everyday electronic products.

Conformal coating is the application of a thin polymeric film to a printed circuit board. The thickness and type of coating is determined by the product and its applications. The coating moulds to the shape of the board and protects components from moisture, dust, chemicals, and temperature extremes. As circuit boards decrease in size but increase in complexity, conformal coating also offers protection against electrical failure. Board components are effectively sealed, guaranteeing connection.

Conformal coating offers a cost-effective alternative to protecting electronic assemblies, removing the need for additional containment means.