Conformal coatings were designed to be safe and effective for years to come. Unfortunately, though, that isn't always the case. There are certain conditions which can severely impact the quality of the coating, limiting its effectiveness and even altering the product's overall performance. This can lead to serious issues. How do you know when your conformal coating needs to be removed?
The Removal Process
Before you start looking for signs that your conformal coating needs to be removed, it's important to know that removing conformal coating is often a complex process. Although it is occasionally possible for the end-user or the original equipment manufacturer to remove the conformal coating from a surface, the process is usually rendered impossible by insufficient knowledge, skills, or tools, making removal too dangerous or costly to be done. As a result, the conformal coating removal process is best performed by conformal coating experts or removal professionals. This is usually the only way to ensure that the product itself remains intact without incurring expensive damages.
What to Watch For
What circumstances might cause conformal coating to need removal? The three main reasons are tin whiskers, poor adhesion, and complications.
Tin whiskers. Tin whiskers are defects along the sides of metal that appear as spiky protrusions, much like whiskers. These little problems can cause big issues down the line: their continued presence will eventually cause short-circuits. Unfortunately, it's often necessary to remove the conformal coating so that the tin whiskers can be eliminated.
Poor adhesion. If for any reason the conformal coating doesn't have strong adhesion--like, for example, if there are contaminants on the substrate material that interfere with the coating--the coating will have to be removed.
Complications. Sometimes, conformal coatings need to be removed even before they've been placed completely. Situations like these usually arise when previous problems have rendered the entire process too complicated, expensive, or inefficient to complete.