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60 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2018 At a time when we should all be considering the impact that some conformal coating for- mulations can have on the environment and start looking for more environmentally friendly options, let me pose this question: How effec- tive can water-based conformal coatings really be? In my first column in this series, I looked at how to minimise and limit incidences that may hinder the performance of conformal coatings. Essentially, I offered advice on the most appro- priate product selection, application technique and the key decisions on a range of issues, such as how thick the coating should be. However, one area I didn't cover in my last column is how the various chemistries that underpin these high-performing products affect the environment—either during application (when they may potentially pose a hazard to workers) or in the context of their role as pro- tection for electronic assemblies that are put to use in the wider world. In this column, I intend to concentrate fully on environmental factors, describing the environmentally friendly prod- ucts that are in operation and upcoming, and their limitations. With environmental awareness at an all- time high, companies are looking for greener options in terms of the chemical products they use for the manufacture and protection of electronics, including conformal coatings and various cleaning technologies, among others. Such products often contain solvents, which are described as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon containing substances that vaporise easily at room temperature. From a raw materials perspective, and con- centrating on chemicals used within the elec- tronics sector, there is now a greater choice of more environmentally friendly alternatives Are Solvent-Free, Water-Based Coatings Reliable? Sensible Design by Phil Kinner, ELECTROLUBE

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