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How to Avoid Costs You Thought Were Inevitable

a picture of earth from a satellite with lines representing the internet

Mallory McGuinness | November 24, 2020

With 41.6 billion connected devices expected to deploy by 2025 into all types of environments, the stakes have never been higher when providing reliable products that serve crucial functions and manage critical infrastructures. The fact that electronic dependability and durability are table stakes for success is a significant challenge for OEMs, their designers, and engineers, as environmental constituents such as humidity, saltwater, corrosives, and contaminants can quickly break down sensitive circuitry, causing an immediate or unexpected failure. If you provide connected electronics as a product, you must protect your devices from their operating environments, and if the protection is not orchestrated correctly, you can expect to incur costs. Fortunately, reliable protection doesn’t just help you meet application and market requirements. You can avoid unnecessary costs by safeguarding your electronics from the elements, simply by using proven design measures.

View our webinar on how to improve automotive electronic performance in harsh service environments.

Why Cost Avoidance Matters for OEMs

Any action you can take that averts potential increases in costs through preemptive measures is important for your business. A good way to think about avoidance measures is placing a star baseball player on the field even though your team has already lost. If she had remained on the bench, you would have lost by 15 points. But because you put your best foot forward with your star player, your team loses by just 5 points. Thus, while you still incur costs, they aren’t as substantial as they could have been.

Protective nanocoatings can help prevent unnecessary costs, including:

Repairs

Repair costs quickly eat away at profits, costing upwards of $100s per electronic product, depending on the industry. Meanwhile, diagnostic fees alone can typically range between$30 – $350 per occurrence.

Refunds

Up to 10% of in-store and 40% of online purchases get returned, with a cited inability to meet expectations ranking among the top 10 reasons.

Warranty Claims

Warranty costs vary from 0.5% to 5% of sales, depending on the industry.

Service Calls

Typical truck rolls can cost companies more than $200 per call. Like oil platforms or urban settings, field failures in remote areas can run into the tens of thousands for repairs.

Uptime

System uptime is critical to avoiding unnecessary expense and performance penalties, with each incident potentially running into the millions.

a phone with water on it

These Costs are Not Inevitable

Everyday electronics are deployed into challenging environments full of failure-inducing threats, so you may have assumed that costs are unavoidable as your products succumb to corrosion, liquid damage, overheating, or chemical exposure. These costs are typical if you’ve been using conventional practices like seals and gaskets to protect your sensitive circuitry. After all, seals can become dislodged after facing various common conditions such as temperature change or vibrations. If they remain intact, contaminants from the outside can still make their way in through the seals, breaking down devices until they fail.

However, these costs aren’t inevitable. Next-generation thin-film solutions and nanocoatings can help maximize preventable costs.

Rather than applying a “band-aid” solution to products damaged by liquid exposure, corrosives, or contaminants in the environment by repairing them after the fact, your devices can perform as expected with durable, dependable protection applied during manufacturing, eliminating or minimizing repairs.

Appropriately protecting your products against water and liquid damage can also minimize refunds and avoid premature shutdown even in the face of failure-inducing environmental factors.

Finally, service calls don’t have to be an issue anymore. Corrosion in electronics is avoidable with proper protection.

Think Thin – Why Thin-film Solutions and Nanocoatings Lead to Cost Avoidance

Thin-films such as Parylene and nanocoatings exhibit beneficial electric, thermal and corrosion-resistance properties that will safeguard your electronic products from failure-inducing elements in the environment. Let’s take a closer look at some of the beneficial properties:

Corrosion and Moisture-Resistance Properties

Keeping water away from circuitry is a critical property where thin-film solutions and nanocoatings excel. This attribute is an imperative one because it offers corrosion-resistance. The Water Vapor Transmission Rate (WVTR) is a primary corrosion property. If water can’t reach the surface, corrosion can’t occur. Polymers aren’t hermetic seals – they all breathe. So a very low WVTR is critical.

 

Water Vapor Transmission Rate

Material

Parylene
Epoxy
Urethane

WVTR (g·mil)/(100in²·day)

>0.21
6.6
20.2

Water Absorption

A secondary corrosion property is water absorption, playing a role in overall corrosion protection—the lower the water absorption, the better.

Material

Max Opertating Temp °C
Minimum Coating Thickness to Meet IPC Standards
Chemical Resistance

Water Absorption

< 0.1%
0.08 - 1.5%
0.02 - 1.50%

A good way to think about avoidance measures is placing a star baseball player on the field even though your team has already lost.

Additional Benefits

Dielectric Strength

Dielectric strength is a critical coating property, particularly for ESD and high voltage applications. Colloquially defined, it is “how good a material is for electrical insulation.” The chart below showcases the electrical properties of Parylene. It delivers similar strength as urethane and epoxy at much thinner coatings. Meanwhile, the ceramic and metal oxide films that plasma-applied nanocoatings can comprise are potentially even more robust at thinner layers.

Material

Parylene
Epoxy
Urethane

Dielectric Strength

>5,600 V/mil
900 – 1,000
1,400 – 3,000

Thermal Conductivity

Thermal management is critical for electronics as devices become smaller than ever before—the risk of overheating increases. The insulating features of traditional conformal coatings beneficial for dielectric strength become a hindrance to thermal management. Thin, reasonably thermally conductive materials allow for better thermal management, whether it’s a next-generation coating such as Parylene or ultra-thin nanocoating protection.

Coating

Parylene
Epoxy
Urethane

Thermal Conductivity (W/mK)

>0.9
0.17 – 0.21
0.21

Film Thickness (µm)

1 – 50
30 – 130
30 – 130

Conclusion

As you can see, using proper modes of protection with superior protection properties can make or break your business when it comes to cost avoidance. Schedule a consultation with HZO, and put a star player on the field to avoid repairs, recalls, warranties, and service calls.

Keeping water away from circuitry is a critical property where thin-film solutions and nanocoatings excel.

Mallory McGuinness

Mallory is an electronics protection evangelist who writes content for HZO. In her free time she is reading non-fiction, and hanging out with her beta fish, King Awesome.

Ryan MooreRyan Moore

Ryan is a 9-year veteran to the world of protecting electronics from harsh environments and a lover of all things technology.

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