Removing Conformal coating from PCBs -stripping successfully!

Removing & stripping conformal coating materials like Humiseals acrylic’s 1B31 & 1R32 and polyurethane’s 1A33 is made easy using the WS100 Wet Stripping System.

 Removal of unwanted conformal coating from a PCB can be a simple process but depends on what conformal coat is to be removed or stripped from the PCB, the area of c0nformal coating to be removed on the PCB, where the conformal coating is and the type of components on the board.

Removal of unwanted conformal coating from a PCB can be a simple process or a very messy difficult job. It depends on what coating you need to remove, where the coating is and the type of components on the board.


The simplest coatings to remove are the acrylics. They have little chemical resistance and therefore are the easiest to remove with stripping fluids like Humiseal’s 1080. These coatings generally re-dissolve back into solution so a combination of soaking and gentle mechanical abrasion works well.


The simplest process for local area rework around a device for instance is a cotton bud soaked in stripping fluid and then rubbed gently across the area to be removed which will dissolve the coating. If the coating is fresh, it comes off in a matter of seconds whereas if the coating is old, having been coated many years ago, then it could take a little longer and patience is required!


If the area to be removed is larger or the whole board is to be stripped then submersion in a tank correctly selected stripping fluid and abrasion using a soft bristle brush will also dissolve the coatings. A word of warning must be given here. First, when submerging in a stripping material check there are no compatibility issues with the PCB. Stripping fluid could attack components and or writing on the boards occasionally although for acrylic coatings the 1080 stripper is not too aggressive.


The other issue that can be a major headache with full stripping of a board is that because the coating re-dissolves into the stripper, there will now be coating residue all over the PCB even where you didn’t want it. This can be a real problem with certain components such as low profile connectors! To remove these residues you will need several tanks of stripping fluid and the PCB will need to be fully rinsed in each, gradually flushing the residue out of the wrong areas. Once completed the PCB should then be cleaned in a cleaning system to remove any unwanted ionics.


These two processes also work for coatings such as polyurethanes and silicones although since they have chemical resistance they are tougher to remove. Correct stripping solution selection is critical and this is why Humiseal have several stripping products including 1063 for polyurethanes.

Click for further information on conformal coating removal.

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About Dr Lee Hitchens

Dr Hitchens has been working in the electronics industry and the area of conformal coatings for over 25 years in various areas including sales and technical support. He has also been training people for almost the same amount of time in all areas of conformal coating whether that is materials & equipment selection, process development or troubleshooting to help them solve their particular problem. Recently, he decided that the industry needed a specific place where all of the useful knowledge on conformal coatings could be collated for users to find easily and use in their own production process. So, Nexus was born and he began the Nexus eBook project.

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