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The National Physical Laboratory Invite Electrolube To Co-Author A Paper For APEX Expo

Posted on 24 March 2016 by Daniel Callaghan

Electrolube is pleased to announce an exciting collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). Phil Kinner, Electrolube’s Technical Director for the Conformal Coatings Division, has co-authored a paper entitled ‘A New Approach To Condensation Testing’ with colleagues at NPL, who presented the paper in Las Vegas at the APEX Expo, the premier US event for the printed circuit manufacturing industry, which took place March 15-17.  

Conformal coatings are often evaluated in high humidity environments - typically 40°C/93% RH, 65°C/95% RH or 85°C and 85% RH. Until recently, little attention has been paid to the characteristics of conformal coatings under condensing environments and testing has previously been confined to the use of humidity chambers, which have certain limitations with respect to this test type.

When evaluating the ability of conformal coatings to offer protection under condensing conditions, it is often difficult to achieve condensation in a controlled manner, particularly when using humidity chambers, which are designed to create a controlled environment. If they sense conditions becoming uncontrolled, they take the necessary action to prevent condensation, which is counterproductive as far as this test is concerned.

The alternative test method proposed by conformal coatings experts, NPL colleagues and Phil Kinner, in their paper involves mounting the test board on a substrate whose temperature can be independently controlled without changing the ambient condition. Thus, the temperature of the test board can be depressed below ambient to any desired point and hence produce condensation at different levels.

Using this method enables straightforward cycling between condensing and non-condensing conditions on the test board in a constant ambient environment. The technique has been demonstrated to be repeatable and controllable, with the user able to select a temperature differential that matches their worst in-use conditions, or to understand the performance of their system under a range of condensing conditions.

The data for a range of conformal coatings (including acrylics, polyurethanes and nano-coatings applied via different processes) are presented in the paper and correlated back to the conformal coating material type, coverage and thickness by cross-sectioning the boards for a direct physical examination of the coating and its performance in terms of moisture protection. The results are presented in detail in the paper, which is expected to provide a very interesting insight for the Las Vegas audience.

Electrolube is a leading developer and supplier of conformal coatings to the global electronics manufacturing industry and has invested heavily in R&D resources and personnel – as evidenced by the company’s ongoing technical collaborations with such World Class research establishments as the National Physical Laboratory. Phil Kinner is renowned throughout the industry for his expertise in conformal coating formulation, application and testing, and this recent project on conformally coated boards under condensing conditions, places the company at the forefront of the circuit protection industry.

APEX Expo 2016 also provided an important platform for Electrolube to show its comprehensive range of conformal coatings and to demonstrate their capabilities in a variety of operating environments. Taking centre stage is the pioneering two-part conformal coating system, prefixed ‘2K’, which was developed in-house by Phil Kinner and his team. The initial offering comprises three products, each meeting a host of specifications and all fully IPC-CC-830 compliant.

Ron Jakeman, Group Managing Director of Electrolube, comments, “We are delighted to have been asked to work alongside the National Physical Laboratory on Condensation testing. We are consistently working with industry to provide complete solutions for our customers and this project is particularly significant in providing new breakthrough techniques for highly reliable and efficient condensation tests, a testimony to both NPL and our own experts. We aim to provide the market with the very latest advances in coating technologies and advancing the condensation test process will help us retain our position at the forefront of conformal coatings development.”

Read the full white paper HERE