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Conformal Coating Automation: The Final Step to Coating Success

You’ve automated your conformal coating and inspection processes. Masking is substantially reduced or eliminated and you’re getting consistent, high-quality coating results. That’s great progress, but what’s next? The final step in conformal coating automation, is to ensure the applied coating doesn’t migrate and that it remains unblemished. Damage can be introduced through handling. And failures such as shrinkage, solvent entrapment, orange peel, and bubbles can occur if the coating material isn’t appropriately cured. Curing, however, takes time and can impact operator safety. These concerns can be addressed by introducing ovens that “dry” boards, safely vent VOCs, block UV light, and support high production throughput.

Selecting the appropriate oven for your process involves several important considerations. The actual selection process is complex and requires expert guidance. This article includes a general checklist to help you understand the basic considerations. When you’re ready, contact us and we can help you navigate the decision-making process to ensure that you select the right oven for your application. 

Curing vs. Drying – What’s the Difference?

Chemical curing involves hours or days at ambient temperature or in heated conditions to achieve the optimum properties for full protection and ruggedization. Drying, in contrast, can occur within minutes after the coating and inspection process allowing production operators to handle coated boards – without introducing fingerprints, pulling coating material off the board, or causing coating to migrate into keep-out-zones when boards are tipped. In other words, drying preserves the high-quality coating results that are achieved through an automated coating and inspection process without disrupting the ongoing flow of your production process.

Safety First –  Protect Operators and Improve Compliance

Reflow ovens can dry conformal coatings, but the top-ventilation design used in reflow ovens emits VOCs directly into the work environment. Nordson ASYMTEK’s in-line IR/Convection Ovens feature a unique down-draft exhaust design for safe VOC removal.

Nordson ASYMTEK’s Select Cure UV-9 Oven features shutters to protect operators from UV light exposure.

Choosing an Oven – Understanding the Basics

Each manufacturer will take a different path depending on the type of board and application, the desired cycle rate, and coating material curing profile. These factors determine the type of oven that’s needed. Use the following checklist to explore the basic considerations. 

Checklist:

1.What is the desired cycle rate?

This will determine the oven length requirements.

2.What are the temperature constraints for the board or part?

Multi-zoned top and bottom heat sources can be used to control temperature settings. The top and bottom of a board can be dried at the same time. Horizontal ovens with an infrared heat source can also be used.

3.What curing mechanism is needed?

Ovens with a modified inside atmosphere that control the amount of humidity, CO2, or nitrogen are available. Nordson ASYMTEK also offers specialized UV A, B, and C range Arc lamps doped with iron or mercury to enhance UV wave length.

Ready to start the selection process? We’re here to help. For more information, contact us at asktheexperts@nordsonasymtek.com.

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