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10 SMT007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2019 Feature by Phil Kinner ELECTROLUBE With electronics increasingly playing a part in daily life, the applications for electronic systems continue to develop at a rapid pace. Miniaturisation is ever-increasing with sys- tems expected to perform more operations more quickly and more reliably whilst becom- ing smaller and lighter with every design itera- tion. As assemblies become more densely pop- ulated, and housing/casing designs become more permeable to save weight, the use of conformal coatings is essential to protect the assembly from its operating environment and ensure acceptable reliability for the application intended, especially when operating in hostile environments. Conventionally, conformal coatings are thin polymeric materials intended to protect assem- blies from harsh conditions experienced in their operating environment, including moisture, condensation, salt spray, corrosive gases, con - ductive particles, etc. Coatings can also pro- vide further dielectric insulation, allowing com- ponents to be placed in closer proximity than would be possible in the air, and mitigation against the growth of tin whiskers (Figure 1). To fully protect against corrosion and pro- vide an effective barrier to mitigate against tin whiskers, which can potentially cause failure Figure 1: Tin-whisker formation.

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