How to Choose the Right Conformal Coating Company

Posted by Jake Hinojoza on Jun 16, 2016 9:00:00 AM
Jake Hinojoza

Conformal coatings protect your small electronic devices from environmental threats and ensure functionality. It makes sense then that you should thoroughly research coating service providers before settling on one. Here are a few tips for choosing the right conformal coating company.

Coating Capabilities

Even if you are looking specifically for a service provider who applies parylene coatings in a vapor form, you should look for a provider who does both liquid and vapor. Choosing a multi-faceted provider will leave you open to more flexibility when it comes to various projects. You might find that parylene isn’t always the best choice to protect your products. A service provider should also be able to give an unbiased opinion when it comes to liquid or vapor conformal coatings and give you the best advice for a specific project.

Consider the Location

Conformal coating companies operate within a small industry. When you are looking for a conformal coating service, it’s likely you will have to look out of town if not out of state. As such, you should consider the location of the company. A beneficial location will be close to a well-connected road and air network.

Proven Experience

Conformal coatings protect electronics that perform various functions some of which involve combat or even insertion into the human body. That being said, you want to be sure that your conformal coating service provider will deliver a superior product. You can ask about certifications that assess quality control and maintenance of high levels of performance. A company with over ten years of experience and trained staff will also indicate quality service.

When you're looking for conformal coating, you're likely to run into different types of providers. You might be lucky enough to find a professional, reliable provider the first time--but if you find yourself in the presence of an irresponsible or inexperienced provider, you need to know the warning signs.

What to Look For

It's extremely important to find a conformal coating provider who is familiar with the five conformal coating types: acrylic, urethane, silicone, epoxy, and parylene. The provider must be comfortable handling requests and questions about all five types; this is important because, even if you only need parylene coating, you can be sure that the provider has reliable experience in all corners of the conformal coating field--and, a provider with true expertise will be able to find solutions that work for you, rather than settling for the solution they are most comfortable with. This first step is crucial, and no conformal coating provider should be considered if they do not have experience with all five conformal coating types.

What to Ask

The next step is to ask a series of important questions. Consider these topics and accompanying questions. 

  • Contaminants. One of the first questions you should ask a potential provider is "how do you handle and prevent ionic and nonionic contaminants?" This is crucial because both types of contaminants can cause serious damage: ionic contaminants weaken the coating with corrosion and possible short-circuits, while nonionic contaminants exist on the surface before coating and can cause failure to adhere.
  • Cleaning. Ensuring that the surface is clean prior to placing a conformal coating is extremely important. Make sure your provider can answer questions about cleaning. Ask if pure water is used and if solvents or surfactants are applied to eliminate nonionic contaminants.
  • Longevity. Another crucial topic to ask about is longevity. How long does the provider's conformal coating last, and what does the provider do to ensure this longevity? How is cracking prevented? What about bubbles, foam, and the "orange peel" appearance of improperly-placed coating? These questions will help you determine how professional your potential provider truly is.

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Topics: Conformal Coating Types