Why do circuit boards fail due to poor conformal coating application?
When considering the long term reliability of Printed circuit boards (PCBs), it is important to understand that they can fail due to being exposed to harsh or extreme environments such as airborne contamination, salt spray, moisture, fungus, dust and corrosion.
By definition conformal coating is a protective non conductive dielectric layer that is applied onto the printed circuit board assembly to protect the electronic assembly from this damage. The coating when applied well gives added protection. So, if the conformal coating is poorly applied to the PCB then the circuit board is more likely to fail in the long-term.
Looking specifically at the application of the coating there are several defects that can occur during processing that can fundamentally impair the performance of the conformal coating. This can lead to reduced long-term reliability of the PCB. These defects can include Capillary Flow, De-wetting, De-lamination, Cracking, Orange Peel, Pin holes, Bubbles & Foam.
Logically, it is wise to avoid these effects in the process which can potentially improve the lifetime of the circuit board and limit problems in the field.
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