“One of the biggest issues we face is availability of the materials. As a subcontract coating house we generally have to use the coating selected by the customer. This can have dramatic issues occasionally when lead times on products can stretch into weeks or months and the customer wants the product now!”
“Conformal coating is one of the last processes on the PCB. Coating houses are normally making up the time lost in other areas. If you can plan the production to coincide with the material supply chain it’s a great help!”
“Our greatest Challenge is establishing good communication at an early stage with the key decision makers to determine the critical factors such as material specification, performance and requirements. Customers should also think of future needs when discussing conformal coating application systems rather than limit their choices to what is available on a standard machine.”
“Our skill is in combining machine building and automation skills with knowledge of the process of conformal coating and so it is important that we obtain a thorough understanding of our customers’ requirements and quickly formalise them into a plan as quickly as possible.”
“There has been much segmentation in the coating industry and this has driven chemical companies to the most prominent current trend in the marketplace, customization. No longer is one coating chemistry versatile enough for the changing demands of the consumer. It is no longer unusual to take a long standing coating material and have 8-10 versions of the formulation on the market. Viscosity modifications, sometimes from 20 cps all the way to a non-slumping gel version, tend to be the most popular. If you are looking to modify the flow characteristics, limit wicking into keep out areas, produce a dam, or control the solvent to resin ratio, there is typically a product tailored to your requirements.”
“Maybe the appearance of the coating is of greater importance to the end user. This can be as radical as the physical color of the coating itself or maybe just the level of fluorescence under black light. Some end users do specify the coating needs to be visible to the operator from a predetermined distance from the application, or perhaps they are using an automated AOI system. Maybe your technology is proprietary to the point that an opaque coating protects your design in lieu of clear transparent materials. Such requirements may drive an end user to request a custom formulation with these properties.”
“No matter what the request may be, from appearance to viscosity, to the cure mechanism or even changing the solvent carrier to a VOC friendly alternative, customizing formulations has become the norm more than the exception and chemical manufacturers are marketing these products as standard solutions. End users should always work with formulators to assure that any modification to the original chemistry does not affect performance properties such as adhesion, protection, or curing. From an application standpoint, having your chemistry slightly altered may affect a variety of process parameters so always consult your material manufacturer and equipment manufacturer’s applications experts prior to making any formulation change. In an automated process the changes may be as simple as modifying the robot speed or adjusting the path spacing to compensate for the new flow characteristics, or it may require a complete redesign of the fluid system and spray/dispensing valves…. But these factors can always be pre-qualified in a test laboratory.”
“One of the biggest challenges is talking to a customer and finding that a conformal coating material and a conformal coating system has already been specified and the two are not easily compatible.”
“Linking the two in the design stages is critical in stopping the cost of the project multiplying by 2-3 times and causing untold misery and difficulties downstream.”
“It’s well known in the electronics industry that cleanliness of a Printed Wiring Board (PWB) is crucial to the assembly’s performance and reliability. What many don’t realise is that the cleanliness of the board is also paramount in adhesion of the conformal coating that may be applied to the board later in the process.”
“Almost all coating material suppliers recommend that you clean and dry the boards prior to coating. However, too often cost is a factor when determining if cleaning is needed. What many do not take into consideration is the affects this has on coating.”
“From a conformal coating house’s perspective this is a very real concern due in part to the compatibility issues that often come about when the coating to which the customer has selected does not adhere to the mold release agents, fluxes, oils, rosins (to name a few) that have been left behind in the manufacturing process. This makes the coating house look bad.”
“Further, its known that contamination of circuit boards can bring about severe degradation of insulation resistance and dielectric strength, which is counterproductive to what some of the characteristics/reasons that conformal coating is used for. You would not want to paint your car without preparing the surface? So then why would one want to do this to such critical/sensitive electronics which are being manufactured?”
“In general, the minimal added cost added for cleaning far outweighs the time and money (when added up) associated with the rework/touchup caused by dewetting issues, missed deliveries and aesthetically unpleasing conformal coating caused by touchup to areas that have dewetting caused in part to contamination on the board. Cleanliness of completed circuit boards is, therefore, of vital interest.”
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
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”.
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.
Looking for dispensing equipment to dispense conformal coatings, adhesives, potting compounds or other materials.