Conformal coatings made from polymers like parylene are capable of providing numerous types of protection with a single application. Despite frequently being many times thinner than a human hair, such coatings stand up well to hazards like heat, vibration, chemicals, and moisture.
As a result, conformal coatings are now found on many types of products and in a wide variety of environments. A quick look at some of the most interesting of these will reveal that conformal coatings are exceptionally versatile and functional.
Many Ways to Put Conformal Coating to Good Use
Soon after surface-mounted electronics started to become common, manufacturers began applying a thick protective coating known as “potting” to protect the assembled parts. While that relatively crude approach was generally superior to leaving products untreated, it came with some significant drawbacks.
The conformal coating was developed to enable a better, more suitable way to provide the same general types of protection. As this great resource details, conformal coatings are frequently found today on items including:
- Military devices. Whether mounted directly in weapons or left to play supporting roles, circuit boards found in military equipment and assets are often subjected to high levels of stress. Although seemingly quite delicate, conformal coatings of various kinds ensure that military systems will not fail even in the heat of battle. Military procurement contracts issued by governments worldwide frequently require the use of suitable conformal coatings.
- Smartphones. Accidental immersion in water is one of the most common causes of smartphone failure. An appropriate conformal coating can endow an expensive smartphone with enough water resistance to meet and exceed the IPX7 standard. With consumers upgrading their mobile devices less frequently, phone manufacturers increasingly see such extras as desirable points of competitive differentiation.
- O-rings. The 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster has been attributed to the failure of a single, critical O-ring. Had a conformal coating of microscopic thickness been applied to that important part, seven astronauts might have survived the mission. Conformal coatings are now quite frequently used to protect O-rings, gaskets, and seals from threats posed by heat, cold, contaminants, and other hazards.
- Medical implants. Pacemakers, stents, artificial joints, and other implanted medical devices must be able to endure the harsh environment of the human body for years at a stretch without degrading. At the same time, medical implants must also remain biologically compatible and chemically non-reactive. Specially formulated conformal coatings make many implants safer and more functional.
- Automotive parts. Grease, heat, vibration, solvents, and other dangers imperil many types of automotive parts. Conformal coatings applied to critical components like engine control units keep them protected for many thousands of miles. In addition to being affordable to add to such important parts, conformal coatings keep the need for costly redesign work to a minimum.
The Perfect Solution to Many Common Problems
Conformal coatings have become common in applications like these and many others. The range of benefits that an appropriate conformal coating can provide will often be impossible to produce by any other means.
From mass-market consumer goods to specialized military and medical products, conformal coatings consistently check all the most important boxes and do it in especially accessible, cost-effective ways. Manufacturers in a wide variety of industries therefore now make heavy use of conformal coatings themselves.