How do I correctly dip coat my circuit board in conformal coating?


Dip coating is a traditional conformal coating application method that has been used to conformal coat circuit boards for a very long time.

The process in its simplest form is as follows:

  • The printed circuit board (PCB) is dipped into a tank of conformal coating liquid.
  • This can be complete submersion or partial dip.
  • The board can be dipped vertically, horizontally or at another angle.
  • The board can be dipped manually or automatically.
  • The board is removed from the coating and the excess coating drains away.

This process is highly effective in applying a conformal coating to a printed circuit board (PCB).


What equipment may you need for dipping circuit boards in conformal coating?

A simple process is a board dipped by hand into a container of conformal coating. This can give some reasonable results.

However, normally dip coating equipment is used. This is especially true if medium and high volume processing is required.

The reason for using dipping machines is because the process has variables that are critical to film integrity and they are controlled by the machine system.

The variables that are critical for film quality and thickness are:

  • The speed of immersion
  • Dwell time in the coating
  • The withdrawal speed of the board

These factors, plus the viscosity of the conformal coating, are important to create a high quality finish and reduce costs.

A simple process is a board dipped by hand into a container of conformal coating. This can give some reasonable results. However, normally dip coating equipment is used. This is especially true if medium and high volume processing is required.
A simple process is a board dipped by hand into a container of conformal coating. This can give some reasonable results. However, normally dip coating equipment is used. This is especially true if medium and high volume processing is required.

 


How cost effective is the dip process for conformal coating?

The conformal coating process itself can be extremely low cost.

The cost of a dip system can be low compared to many other processes and when balanced against the speed of application.

However, if the circuit board demands a lot of components be masked before processing then the overall coating process can be expensive.

Masking for dipping can be very demanding and very difficult to complete successfully.


Need to know more about using a conformal coating in your application process?

Contact us now and we can discuss how we can help you.

Give us a call at (+44) 1226 249019 or email your inquiries at sales@schservices.com

 

Why does cleaning improve the adhesion of the conformal coating?


In general it is important that conformal coatings have good adhesion in order to be effective. However, there is no single theory that describes the property of adhesion for conformal coatings.

There are three basic mechanisms for conformal coatings that are known to help with good adhesion.

They are:

  1. Adsorption
  2. Chemical Bonding
  3. Mechanical Interlocking
There are three basic mechanisms for conformal coatings that are known to help with good adhesion. They are adsorption, chemical bonding and mechanical Interlocking
There are three basic mechanisms for conformal coatings that are known to help with good adhesion. They are adsorption, chemical bonding and mechanical Interlocking

Adsorption

This is where the molecules in the conformal coating wet or flow freely over the substrate and make intimate contact with the substrate. This forms interfacial (electrostatic) bonds with van-der-Waal forces.

Any contamination between the two will weaken the adsorption. Any de-wetting (prevention of wetting) will also hinder the adsorption.

Cleaning the surface of contamination will help with adsorption.

Chemical bonds

The bonds are formed at the interface between the conformal coating and the substrate.

Good bonding gives strong adhesion of the conformal coating to the substrate. If bonding cannot be achieved due to contamination then poor adhesion may result.

Cleaning the surface of contamination will help the chemical bonding process.

Mechanical interlocking

The conformal coating film penetrates the roughness on the substrate surface and is achieved once the coating dries.

If the surface is smooth then the mechanical bonding is less effective. If the surface can be cleaned, leaving a rough surface, then more effective bonding can be achieved.

Cleaning the surface of contamination will help.


Achieving the best conformal coating adhesion

Surface contamination can be critical when considering conformal coating and the process. If you can clean the contamination from the surface then the adhesion of the conformal coating should improve.

All three mechanisms do not have to occur to form good adhesion. Depending on the specific conformal coating system, substrate, and application method, different mechanisms could work.

However, good wetting or adsorption is normally required for good bonding.

So, if in doubt clean the surface of the substrate to achieve good conformal coating bonding.


Need to know more about conformal coating adhesion?

Contact us now and we can discuss how we can help you.

Give us a call at (+44) 1226 249019 or email your inquiries at sales@schservices.com

What is plasma cleaning?


Plasma cleaning is a process of using plasma energy to clean and modify the surface of a substrate like a circuit board assembly.

It is a highly effective surface cleaning and treatment process before application of conformal coatings and is gaining more popularity due its highly effective performance.

Plasma cleaning is a process of using plasma energy to clean and modify the surface of a substrate like a circuit board assembly. It is a highly effective surface cleaning and treatment process before application of conformal coatings and Parylene.
Plasma cleaning is a process of using plasma energy to clean and modify the surface of a substrate like a circuit board assembly. It is a highly effective surface cleaning and treatment process before application of conformal coatings and Parylene.

What is Plasma?

Plasma is the energy-rich gas state (also known as the fourth state of matter) that can be used to modify the surface of a product to improve its performance.

Plasma technology is based on a simple physical principle.

Matter changes its state when energy is supplied to it. Solids become liquid. Liquids become gas.

If additional energy is then fed into a gas by means of electrical discharge it eventually ionises and goes into the energy-rich plasma state, plasma is created.

This modification can be improving the adhesion of a conformal coating or change the surface characteristics of the board.


How is Plasma used for improving the performance of coatings with printed circuit boards?

For electronic circuit surfaces, plasma treatment can be used in two highly effective ways.

That is it can:

  • Clean the surface of the circuit board. The surface will be free of residues and 100% contamination free including release agents and additives.
  • Activate the surface of the circuit board assembly. This will allow easier bonding and better adhesion of conformal coatings.

These properties make it an interesting technique for improving the surface performance of an electronic circuit board.

In fact, plasma treatment can clean, activate or coat nearly all surfaces. These surfaces include plastics, metals, (e.g., aluminum), glass, recycled materials and composite materials.

This means the plasma process can be highly effective on many different products.

For electronic circuits, plasma treatment can be used in two highly effective ways. First, it can clean the surface of the circuit board. Second, it can activate the surface of the circuit board assembly to allow easier bonding and better adhesion of conformal coatings and materials like Parylene.

For electronic circuits, plasma treatment can be used in two highly effective ways. First, it can clean the surface of the circuit board. Second, it can activate the surface of the circuit board assembly to allow easier bonding and better adhesion of conformal coatings and materials like Parylene.

What are the typical plasma processes available for surface treatment?

There are traditionally three types of plasma treatment:

  1. Low-pressure plasma
  2. Corona treatment
  3. Atmospheric pressure plasma

Low-pressure plasma

These plasmas are generated in closed chambers in a vacuum (10-3 to 10-9 bar).

They can be used in conjunction with Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) coatings like Parylene before application.

Corona treatment

Corona treatment (corona process) is a physical process involving high voltage and is mainly used for treatment of films.

This is normally not suitable for electronic circuit boards.


How is the plasma applied to a circuit board to clean and activate the surface?

For materials like liquid conformal coatings then atmospheric pressure plasma is an excellent process for cleaning surfaces and improving adhesion and surface energy performance of circuit boards for conformal coatings.

Atmospheric plasma is generated under normal pressure. This means that low-pressure chambers are not required.

The plasma is created with clean and dry compressed air and does not require forming gases. It is possible to integrate plasma directly into manufacturing processes under normal pressure conditions.

Typical plasma components used for cleaning surfaces on circuits are:

  • Plasma jets (nozzles) to apply the plasma to the surface of the circuit board. They could be controlled by a robotic system.
  • The plasma generators that create the plasma to clean or supply the coatings as required. They provide output power and, in conjunction with complete pretreatment stations, assume various control functions.
  • The process monitoring that controls the nozzles, the movement of the system and the quality of the output.

These three parts form the plasma cleaning process.

For Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) coatings like Parylene then low-pressure plasma can be used in the chamber before application.

These plasmas are generated in closed chambers in a vacuum (10-3 to 10-9 bar).


Want to know more about plasma cleaning and conformal coating performance?

Contact us now to discuss what we can offer you in terms of cleaning fluids from our Surclean range of materials.

Give us a call at (+44) 1226 249019 or email your inquiries at sales@schservices.com

What are conformal coating masking boots and how can they save you money?


The use of masking materials such as tapes, dots and liquid latex can be a highly effective process in protecting components from ingress of conformal coating.

However, the masking process can be labour intensive, difficult and time consuming.

Using reusable, custom masking boots offers a labour saving alternative in both the masking and de-masking stages of the coating process.

This can save you lots of time and money.

masking boots

Three simple reasons why conformal coating masking boots can save you money

  • Masking time is reduced. Using masking boots as an alternative can be 4-5 times quicker than masking tape.
  • De-masking time is reduced. Again it is much quicker to remove masking boots than tape
  • Masking boots don’t leak as easily as tape. So there is less chance of a need to repair or remove leaked coating.

This means you can save a lot of money very quickly when switching to custom masking boots.


How Diamond MT saved nearly 60% of their process time switching to masking boots

Diamond MT, a conformal coating and Parylene coating service provider, found they saved 60% of their current costs by switching to the SCH range of conformal coating masking boots.

Sean Horn, Diamond MT, explains how they did it.

“We had initially wanted to try SCH’s conformal coating masking boots for price savings. However, once we began to work with Lee on our specific masking application, we realised that we could extend the life of our boots over 200%. We switched immediately!

We then realised the importance of working with someone who understands conformal coatings. We will not being going back to our previous supplier.”

Sean Horn, Director, Diamond MT, Parylene and conformal coating subcontract service provider.


Find out how much you can save by switching to custom boots

We are happy to provide a quotation for our masking boots so you can see for yourself how much you can save.

Just provide us with three pieces of information:

  • Provide a picture of the board you wish to test
  • Identify the components you need to mask
  • Provide the component identification codes (manufacture details etc)

Contact us now to request your quotation for conformal coating masking boots.

Call us on +44 (0) 1226 249019, email your requirements on sales@schservices.com