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The modern transportation industry heavily relies on conformal coating, a process that involves the application of a thin protective layer of polymer material to electronic components and printed circuit boards (PCBs). This critical step in electronics manufacturing enhances the longevity and reliability of devices, proving particularly crucial for automotive, marine, aerospace, and railway vehicles exposed to harsh environments detrimental to electronic equipment.

In this article, you will discover more about the benefits, applications, and techniques of conformal coating used in the transportation industry.

Benefits of conformal coating

Conformal coating adds an extra step to the electronics manufacturing process. However, it brings significant benefits that outweigh the associated expenses. As mentioned earlier, one of the major advantages of applying conformal coating to electronics used in vehicles is the increased equipment service life, durability, safety, and reliability. The protective polymer layer can effectively reduce mechanical stress and abrasions. Simultaneously, it can guard electronic elements against chemicals and corrosion, and increase temperature resistance, minimising the negative effects inflicted by extreme temperatures.

A prolonged lifespan of electronic devices is not the only benefit of conformal coating. It also helps achieve a significant reduction in conductor spacing, even up to 80% and enhances electrical performance by decreasing unwanted current leakage.

Applications of conformal coating in the transportation industry

Conformal coating cannot be neglected in the manufacturing process of electronics designed for use in vehicles, as durable devices and components are crucial for human safety. Numerous electronic elements undergo conformal coating, and below are some examples:

  • Electronic control units (ECUs), such as transmission control units, engine control modules, and other processing units, exposed to dust, moisture, and other environmental elements;
  • LEDs in lighting and display systems, such as taillights and headlights;
  • Proximity sensors used in advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) for collision avoidance;
  • Tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) responsible for alerting drivers about low-pressure conditions;
  • Light detection and ranging sensors (LiDAR) designed to create high-resolution maps of the surroundings based on measurements made with lasers.

Conformal coating materials and methods

The choice of conformal coating materials and techniques for electronics used in vehicles depends on numerous factors such as environmental conditions, the type of device, ease of application and repair, as well as cost. Some of the materials popular in the electronics manufacturing transportation industry are acrylic resin, urethane resin, epoxy resin, silicone resin, and perylene.

Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages, determining the best area of application. For example, silicone resin offers exceptional thermal and electrical properties, making it resilient against high temperatures and vibrations. Its good flexibility and moisture resistance are valuable attributes too. On the flip side, low adhesion and mechanical strength, along with the potential for contaminating nearby surfaces due to its low surface tension, may limit its application in certain contexts.

Since conformal coating materials have such diverse properties, experienced electronics manufacturing service (EMS) providers like Poland-based Assel offer a variety of options for this process to meet the requirements of a certain device.

Among the common techniques used for conformal coating are spraying, dipping, brushing, selective coating, and vapor deposition.

Protecting electronic devices with conformal coating

Conformal coating is a critical step in electronics manufacturing that contributes to the safety and reliability of electronic systems used in vehicles. Visit the page about conformal coating in electronics manufacturing to learn more about cooperation with Assel, the EMS provider who ensures that the quality of coatings meets the requirements of stringent industry standards.

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