What is the right removal process for conformal coating removal?

There are several reasons why a conformal coating may need to be removed from a printed circuit board or component.

However, the two main reasons I normally see are:

  • The board or component may need to be reworked for electrical repair or improvement of functionality
  • Poor conformal coating application has led to the requirement to repair the material and reapply the coating

Whatever the reason for removing the conformal coating the process is a challenge.

Whether it has been a localised repair to a component or a complete strip of the conformal coating it has always been difficult for the unlucky technician stuck with the job.

Manual conformal coating removal 500.jpg

What are options for conformal coating repair and removal?

There are several main methods now available for both localised repair and complete stripping of the conformal coating.

These include:

  • Soldering through the coating
  • Chemical stripping of the material
  • Mechanical abrasion with a tool like a blade
  • Micro abrasion using particulates to “shot blast” the coating
  • Plasma processing using a plasma gas for removal

So which is the right removal process for conformal coating?

None of the options are perfect.

All of them have there advantages and disadvantages. The key is to review the circuit board and its needs on an individual basis.

Some of the factors that influence the conformal coating removal process include:

  • Conformal coating material type
  • The size of the area to repair
  • The components sensitivity to the repair process (will they get damaged?)
  • The cost of the repair versus the value of the circuit board
  • The health and safety implications to the operator carrying out the repair

All of these factors and more can influence the choice or even whether the operation takes place.

After all, the cost of most electronics nowadays can be so low that the repair process is not cost effective!

To find out more go to the Nexus eBook section on conformal coating removal or contact us directly and we can help.

Need help with your conformal coating process?

Contact Nexus now and let us show you how we can help you.

Dr Lee Hitchens, Author of Nexus website and ebook

Dr Lee Hitchens is the Author of the Nexus eBook and a main contributor to Nexus.