Why Should Nexus Carry Out Conformal Coating Research Now?

 The interest in, awareness of and need for conformal coating has never been greater.  With the continued drive towards miniaturisation, increased performance expectations among users and the ever more diverse and unexpected operating environments encountered, increasing the reliability of electronic assemblies becomes increasingly more of a challenge.
Conformal coatings have long been used in military and aerospace environments, and more recently have become more prevalent in automotive electronics as an additional level of protection to prevent corrosion and other failures due to humidity and condensation.  Increasingly, however, industrial control electronics and even consumer devices require coating to survive their warranty period, and provide a consumer acceptable lifetime.
Increasingly, western designed electronics are being manufactured and sold in developing economies, and encountering operating environments for which they were not designed, with high levels of humidity and pollution, resulting in some fairly corrosive operating environments.  Many OEM’s have encountered these kinds of issues, and often, the addition of a protective layer of conformal coating has been a more cost-effective solution than redesigning the device, electronics and or enclosures.
A Tale of Two Countries
One OEM of which we are aware had a monthly warranty claim in India alone of $600,000, for a mature, uncoated product design that had warranty claims in the region of $10,000 per year in North America.  The company’s brand image was suffering and senior management was ‘deeply concerned with finding a solution’.
One year after instigating a conformal coating process, this OEM now has warranty claims of under $10,000 in India.  The OEM achieved an ROI of greater than 60%, with a less than two month payback.  The Senior Leadership team is delighted, the operations manager responsible for the implementation was promoted to a global corporate role and they are looking to implement coating on all new designs and adopting a ‘design for coating’ mantra, based on their experiences over the last year.  All in all, a total success story?
Well not quite.  It took them three months to identify and prove the root cause failure mechanism was corrosion due to the cocktail of sulfides and nitroxides, present in significant quantities in the polluted indian cities, mixing with humidity and condensing as acidic solutions on the electronics, in a similar fashion to the ‘acid rain’ phenomenon so familiar in the west.
After they had diagnosed the failure mechanism, it took them two more months to decide on conformal coating, rather than changing the housing, gasketing the housing or potting as solutions.  Then they decided to adopt the conformal coating used by their parent company on the basis ‘if it was  tested and found good enough for them, it would be good enough for us’.
They then coated assemblies for test, by hand using an aerosol spray can, and ran them through a 3 month much shortened verification campaign, at the end of which all the units bar one had failed dismally.  2 weeks later they had a failure report which attributed most of the failures to either ‘the conformal coating material was not able to protect the circuit from the test environment’ or that ‘poor coverage and bad application technique were responsible for the failures’.
The engineering team gets smart
Thankfully, the failure analysis brought the operations team into the equation, since if the application method was important, then that should be considered as part of the solution.  The operations team got the selective coating equipment suppliers involved, and a partnership with the conformal coating material supplier was formed.
The manufacturers of the materials and equipment provided some actionable input, and a new set of assemblies was coated with a robot and a different (much more expensive) material and  subjected to the test regime.
Three months later all of the test units had survived the accelerated test, the material was fast-tracked through the corporate qualification program (another two months) since it was unknown and untested by them, and the implementation program began with another two month lead time on production equipment.
The real cost of implementation
The OEM had still been stuck with the warranty claims throughout the process development of nearly one year (approx $7,200,000)
Laboratory testing at an outsourced laboratory for the 6 months of actual validation, the expedited failure analysis report and the cost of corporate qualification cost the program close to $500,000
The overhead cost of the project team with an equivalent ten full-time members ran to nearly $1,000,000
The opportunity cost was unmeasured, but the same team were required to solve a soldering defect which was deferred.
The damage to the brand reputation of the additional year’s field failures and warranty returns.
The capital equipment for five production lines ran to $600,000
The material expenditure ran at $300,000 per annum
Total Investment = $9,300,000
Payback = 31 Months
3 Yr Return = 1%
5 Yr Return = 4%
Of course, the big number here is the length of time during which they continued to field warranty claims (and pay the project team, and an extra set of lab tests and more delay due to the false start with the original material and application method).  The selection of which was based on a bad assumption, and could very well be made again.  Was it the material or was it the application method that caused the failures in the first round of testing?  Is there a way to separate the two?  Does this dilemma sound familiar?
Is there a better way?
Conformal Coating is a process, not a material.  Not all materials and processes are created equally.  When it comes to increasing the reliability of your printed circuit assemblies in harsh operating conditions, you need to know which conformal coating materials and application processes provide the best levels of protection for your assembly.
Nexus, THE conformal coating consulting company, is conducting a world-first, independent research analysis of the most popular commercially available conformal coating materials and the various application methods used to apply them, to provide you an unparalleled level of knowledge and insight.  Upon completion of the research you will know:
• Whether your material is the best available or most suitable for your application
• Whether your conformal coating application process is giving you the best results from your material
• Whether there is a significant difference in protection provided by the various application methods.
• Which materials and processes you should be considering for your new (or legacy) projects.
Had the OEM team been armed with this report, they would have known that the initial conformal coating material selection and application method was or was not suitable and could have saved half of the time (and  $4,500,000) they spent on this project, reducing the payback by seven months to 24 months, improving returns to a more respectable 5% and 9%, reducing the damage to their brand reputation and moved onto solving the solder defect quicker, thus compounding their savings.

Use Nexus Conformal Coating Buying Service and Use our Expertise to Save Money

PROCUREMENT SERVICE

The Nexus consultants can provide a partial or full purchasing service for conformal coating equipment, materials or subcontract coating service and achieve the best prices and processes.

Our consultants have many years experience working in the conformal coating market both in the commercial and technical areas so can identify the best technical process, material, subcontract service or equipment at the optimum price for the customer.

Example:

Customer A requires a Conformal Coating Material to protect his PCB product in the field.

Nexus can offer the following:

  • Identify the right type of conformal coating material for the product
  • Ensure that the conformal coating material type selected is compatible with the customers current and / or future equipment processes
  • Negotiate with a large selection of conformal coating material suppliers to obtain the best commercial price for the materials based upon technical support, length of contract, volume, global needs etc

Contact Nexus for your buying needs

Conformal Coating Newsletter From Nexus will be Available 13th July

The next Newsletter from Nexus will be available on July 13th.

In this Months issue Nexus will cover the Main Feature – Conformal Coating Material Challenges which will include

  • Ask The Experts – Challenges for users and suppliers
  • Technical Article – Key Material Challenges
  • Technical Article- Selecting a Material and a Supplier

Nexus will also cover the New Research Program through Focus on R&D- Why is Nexus carrying out the Research?
Nexus will also announce the New 12 Month Global Workshops Program

Sign Up for the Newsletter here.

Nexus Conformal Coating Spotlight Service: MG Chemicals exhibit at Farnborough International Aerospace (FIA) Show in UK in partnership with SCH Technologies

Canadian based company, MG Chemicals, has invested significantly in overseas marketing this year by targeting key exhibitions such as Farnborough in July, Nepcon Shenzhen in August and Electronica India in September.  The FIA show, with its 1300 military exhibitors are exactly the customers MG wish to target with their specialist electronics materials and believe their products are exactly what customers need.

Further, with a new range of materials to be launched shortly, MG see the FIA Show as a great launch pad for their new partnership with SCH Technologies. As a technical expert in conformal coating materials, it was easy for SCH to work with MG and their range of products without compromising on independence from conformal coatings.

Dr Lee Hitchens, Technical Director for SCH, explained the decision:

“SCH are a technical based company providing solutions to companies rather than a catalog based sales approach. We have built up long term relationships with customers by providing the right conformal coating solutions for their product. MG’s products allow us to offer our customers additional ranges of materials whilst crucially remaining neutral with the conformal coatings side of the business”.

Click to See MG Chemicals

Nexus How To Guide: Measure the Conformal Coating Thickness on your Printed Circuit Board

The Nexus How To Guide to be published tomorrow covers the issue of How To Measure the Conformal Coating Thickness on your Printed Circuit Board. Conformal coating thickness measurement can be a challenge especially when trying to interpret standards. There are several methods to be used and advantages and trade offs for each.

View the next How To Guide here

Nexus July Newsletter focuses on Conformal Coating Material Challenges

The July issue of the Nexus Newsletter will focus on Conformal Coating Material Challenges. The issue will explore many areas including:

  • Expert Views from Materials and Equipment Suppliers, Users and Coating Service Providers  of both liquid and XY materials.
  • A technical article on the key material challenges including the issues of lead free processing, cleaning, adhesion and the standards
  • A guide on how to choose a material and a material supplier

Nexus will also be announcing a large material research project aimed at benchmarking all of the mainstream materials. The Research Program will be open to Suppliers and Users a like and will aim to show an independent view on material performance against standards and tests. These results will enable companies to determine how good their conformal  coating  material is and just what are the alternatives.

Register for the Nexus Newsletter in July.

PREVIEW: August Edition of the Nexus Newsletter will focus on Conformal coating Inspection, Automated Inspection and AOI.

Find the Distributor for Conformal Coating Suppliers in your region with Nexus

Nexus have introduced a section to allow distributors to be linked to the conformal coating material and equipment suppliers. This allows the user to find the local representative for a material quickly and easily all within the same resource.

This is also linked through the Material Selection Guide so once you have decided which conformal coating materials you want further information from you can contact the distributor if they have signed up for the service.

This Service goes live on Monday 18th June.

For further information go to Nexus and look at THE INDEPENDENT  conformal Coating Resource.

 

Using the Conformal Coating Materials Selection Guide From Nexus

The Conformal Coating Selection Guide is now ready for users to compare their conformal coating material requirements.

Users will be able to specify their technical requirements for a conformal coating material and the location where the coating is to be used and the Nexus Selection Guide will provide different materials FROM DIFFERENT CONFORMAL COATING COMPANIES from around the world. This allows customers to compare technical specifications and supplier information from one portal providing INDEPENDENT power to the customer.

To use the system follow these simple instructions:

  • Log on  / sign up for Nexus
  • Indicate the Country or Region you would like to buy the coating in (some materials are not available globally)
  • Type in your technical specifications
  • Choose from the selection of conformal coatings FROM DIFFERENT MATERIAL MANUFACTURERS
  • Request further information from the Manufacturers or distributors

ITS SO EASY!

Even better you can request FREE help on selection and also use Nexus’s buying Service to negotiate to buy the coatings at a discounted price.

Leading conformal coating material manufacturers like Humiseal have joined the Nexus Conformal Coating Material Selection Guide Service.

Select your conformal coating material from multiple suppliers and find your contact for that material in your region of the world.

Contact Nexus to use the Conformal Coating Selection Guide

Independent Conformal Coating Monthly Newsletter from Nexus3c

The Nexus3c Conformal Coating Newsletter signposts users to new research, information, industry events, exhibitions, new suppliers, products, training opportunities and any area that aids users of conformal coatings to improve their process.

Apply for the Nexus3C Newsletter which is now launched free to all companies who sign up to receive a copy.

Contact Nexus3C to receive your Free Conformal Coating Newsletter from Nexus3C Conformal Coating Database and Resource

Use Nexus to help with your Conformal Coating Material Selection

Nexus3C offers invaluable advice, practical experience and knowledge to assist in the selection of a conformal coating material ensuring.

Nexus Consultants have intimate knowledge of available conformal coatings and conformal coating equipment in the market place and work with suppliers on a regular basis. They are also aware of the current standards, legislation, and best practices and have in-depth experience in recommending processes that work immediately and without compromise.

This allows Nexus3C to recommend the optimum practical and commercially suitable process for the customer, without compromise to results.

Ask Nexus to help you select your conformal coating materials.