Are there design rules for the conformal coating dip application?


There are design guidelines that can be used to help make conformal coating of circuit boards using the dip process a lot easier.

Having these specific design rules for dipping conformal coating can help save a lot of time, money and trouble on the production line.

Here are a list of rules and guidelines that could be considered.

  • Design the board so the masking components are at one end of the circuit. This allows the board to be dipped to a depth before the connectors are coated.
  • Design to hold the board correctly. Make it easy to hold the circuit easily.
  • Design the fixture correctly to avoid coating contamination. Don’t let the fixture get coated.
  • Match the coating material to the dip process. Ensure compatibility.
  • Design the board to drain to a corner. It ensures less build up is found on the board.
  • Avoid using components that can hold conformal coating. When the board drains ensure the component can too.
  • Use the correct components. Use components that are easy to mask.

To find out more click dipping design rules for conformal coating.

Why use conformal coating design rules?


Circuit board design rules and guidelines, when using conformal coating, can save you money, time and problems.

Nexus, the independent conformal coating resource, have split the conformal coating into sections.

They include:

  • General design
  • Selective Robot
  • Dipping
  • Batch Spraying
  • Parylene

Each has overlapping rules and guidelines that also can be very specific to the application process.

Why it all can go wrong in the design stage for conformal coating

Most companies have successfully adopted Design for Manufacture (DFM) principles.

They have increased the level of communication between design teams and those required to manufacture the product, to eliminate or reduce the number and variety of production challenges.

However, this is not always the case.

Conformal coating is not simply a consumable material.

Unfortunately, for too many designers, conformal coating is simply a part number, to be applied to circuit boards.

For companies embracing lean philosophies and applying coatings, this failure to appreciate the subtleties of the application process can result in an un-coatable (at least as specified) assembly process.

The design rules for conformal coating are straightforward.

Follow them and you can save money and time in your application process.

However, if the rules are not followed, the resultant circuit board design can challenge even the most sophisticated conformal coating system and its operator to achieve the finish desired.

It is almost certain that the majority of these ‘nightmare’ scenarios could have been headed off during the design and or prototyping stages of development.

Find out how we can help you with your conformal coating application selection now.

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What application methods are available for applying conformal coating?

SCH UK_1Conformal coatings can be applied to printed circuit boards (PCB) in the production process environment in many alternative ways.

Listed below are the common methods of applying the conformal coating materials.

  • Brushing
  • Aerosol spray
  • Batch spray
  • Selective spray
  • Dipping
  • Vapour deposition

It is possible to split the different application methods and their suitability in many different ways including:

  • Compatibility with the conformal coating material
  • Design of the circuit board
  • Suitability to low, medium and high volume
  • Manual versus automatic process
  • Type of method of application
  • Level of control required

Each of the various methods has different advantages and disadvantages and should be carefully considered.

This thought process relates to the Nexus holistic approach to conformal coating processing that states that you should consider the conformal coating material, the application process and the circuit board together and not as three separate entities.

Find out how we can help you with your conformal coating application selection now.

Contact us to discuss your needs and let us explain how our coating equipment could work for you.

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The ABCs of ultra-thin fluoropolymer coatings for electronic circuit boards


Nano coatings are no mask conformal coatings with great water repellent properties

What is a fluoropolymer coating?

A fluoropolymer coating is typically comprised of fluorocarbons and characterised by carbon-fluorine bonds.

They have many interesting properties and especially for printed circuit boards.

However the three key properties for electronics are that the coatings are:

  • Hydrophobic
  • Chemically resistant
  • No masking required

These properties can be key to protecting the electronics and providing a highly cost effective production process.

Hydrophobic coating

Fluorocarbons are not susceptible to Van der Waals force.

This gives the coatings their signature characteristics. That is they are non-stick, hydrophobic and friction reducing.

Therefore, water does not like to wet the surface of the circuit board and this gives the circuit excellent protection.

Chemically Resistant

These fluorinated coatings are chemically inert.

Owing to the fluorine bonds, fluoropolymer coatings demonstrate a high level of durability as well as resistance to acids, bases and most solvents.

This gives the circuit board a high degree of protection from chemical attack.

No masking required

Finally, what is really interesting is that these properties are exhibited at ultra-thin film thicknesses.

Typically a dry film can be 1-2um or even less.

This means that masking generally is not required for circuit boards before application.  Therefore, you can dip the whole product into the liquid and there is no issue with electrical contact.

This can lead to significant cost savings in production.

What other properties do the fluoropolymer coatings have that may be relevant in electronics?


As already mentioned these hydrophobic coatings have very specialised properties.

They can include:

  • Being highly hydrophobic (water repellent)
  • Having a high moisture barrier
  • Requiring no masking before application
  • Being highly oleophobic (oil repellent)
  • Having a high chemical resistance
  • Having a high lubricity
  • Having high dielectric properties
  • Providing high corrosion resistance
  • Providing good abrasion / wear resistance

Note, not all fluoropolymer coatings have all of the above properties. But, some coatings can in fact have almost all of the properties.

The fluoropolymer coatings are extremely flexible coatings and becoming more prolifically used throughout engineering.

What sectors of industry are fluoropolymer coatings being used in protecting electronics?


Fluorinated coatings are used to protect electronics in almost all industrial sectors.

They include:

  • Aviation
  • Aerospace
  • Defence
  • Automotive
  • Industrial
  • Oil & Gas
  • LEDs
  • Medical
  • Optics
  • Telecommunications
  • White goods / Commercial

This list is limited and there are a lot more areas that they are used.

What are the major differences between a fluoropolymer coating and a conformal coating for protecting an electronic printed circuit board or assembly?

There are several key differences between a conformal coating and a fluoropolymer coating.

They include:

  • Hydrophobic Properties – A fluoropolymer coating is generally hydrophobic in nature. It repels water when the water is on the surface of the coating.
  • Extremely thin coating – The fluoropolymer coating is normally applied a lot thinner than a typical liquid conformal coating. This is due to its superior performance when repels liquids
  • No masking – Due to the extremely thin fluoropolymer coating applied (<1-2um), the components that normally require protecting (connectors, switches etc) from the insulating liquid conformal coating may not need to be masked for the fluoropolymer. The circuit board can be completely submerged in the liquid with no masking applied without fear of damaging the connections.
  • Simple process – No masking means an extremely fast application process
  • Fast drying – due to the thin nature of the fluoropolymer coating and the solvents normally used the coating dries extremely quickly.

Find out how we can help you with your ultra-thin hydrophobic coatings now.

Contact us to discuss your needs and let us explain how hydrophobic coatings could work for you.

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