Four Things to Look for in Any Conformal Coating to be Used on PCBs

A completed printed circuit board (PCB) can sometimes be left as-is, whether because of financial considerations or the lack of a need for additional reliability. In most other cases, though, it will make sense to protect a completed, functional PCB to make a subsequent failure less likely.

This most often means applying a conformal coating that covers and adheres to the entire board and all of its components. Choosing a pcb coating that is especially appropriate to a particular product and situation will always be helpful.

Advanced Coatings Perform Well in Every Relevant Respect

Although they might not look like much to the average person, modern conformal coatings result from impressive amounts of research and development. Going far beyond the basics, the best contemporary coatings perform well in a wide variety of important, valuable respects.

As such, users of conformal coatings will always do well to set a high bar before settling on any one option. Some of the features and characteristics it most often pays to insist on include:

  • Non-conductivity. Conformal coatings meant for application to PCBs should be entirely non-conductive. Although there are other types of coatings that display some amount of conductivity, this will never be acceptable for a PCB.
  • Thermal resilience. All electronic devices are impacted by temperature fluctuations, and conformal coatings are often applied to help insulate them from such variations. Coatings themselves must also be able to stand up well to temperature swings if they are to serve this purpose.
  • Impermeability. One of the features that makes many conformal coatings so appropriate for use on PCBs is that they create a continuous, unbroken layer of protection. A coating that is to any extent permeable can never achieve this and should be avoided.
  • Durability. Even a coating that provides a high level of protection could be less than appropriate if it wears and deteriorates too quickly. The best conformal coatings today hold up well for years even in harsh environments.

The Best Way to Protect Many PCBs

Coatings that perform well in these respects tend to make valuable additions to PCBs that are in need of protection. Choosing an especially high-quality coating can be just as important as the design of a PCB.