Conformal coatings like parylene are strong and trustworthy, and they make necessary equipment safe to use and safer to rely on for long periods of time. However, even the best conformal coatings sometimes need a bit of help to perform their duties efficiently--and that's where masking comes in. Masking is a specialized process with a lot of variables, and, while it is necessary for many applications, the specifics aren't always well-known. Today, our conformal coating experts will provide a crash-course in masking.
The Basics of Masking
Masking is a process designed to ensure that the functionality of conformal coatings and the items they're protecting, like printed circuit boards, don't interrupt one another. For example, if parylene were to coat batteries, connectors, grounding points, switches, or other delicate components, the overall functionality of the item itself could be limited, and the rest of the coating might be rendered inefficient. Masking keeps this from happening by protecting identified areas from the coating during the application process. The process is specialized, and there are a lot of variables, but the key is to carefully decide which masking systems are most effective given the item itself and the desired functions.
What You Need to Know
Our conformal coating experts know the ins and outs of masking, and today they're sharing some key details. Here's a quick look!
Variables. One of the most important parts of the masking process is identifying all of the variables. These include but are not limited to, the type of coating being used, the specific area to be coated, and all involved materials. These variables often have a big impact on the entire process, so knowing what you're dealing with is crucial.
Parylene masking. It's important to remember that if you're using one of the most trusted and long-lived conformal coatings--parylene--then you'll need to use a unique masking process. Parylene's application is in a gaseous form, so there is often need to mask more than just a few specific locations.
Issues. As with anything worth doing, there are a few potential issues to look out for when masking. One of these is electrostatic discharge, defined as too much static electricity, which can be controlled by an ionized air blower; another potential problem is improper timing because the relationship between the masking and coating processes is delicate and any timing issues can cause big risks.