It’s Easy to Be Green with Sustainable Protective Coatings
Mallory McGuinness | December 10, 2020
By 2025, 41.6 billion smart devices will be deployed, making it easier than ever for a vast electronics network to communicate. The proliferation of smart devices has created a small world.
A Small, Polluted World
As more devices are produced, global e-waste generation hit an all-time high – 55.5 million metric tons in 2020 alone.
In addition to e-waste, the manufacturers of these connected electronic devices can create hazardous greenhouse emissions, and without intervention, this small world will continue to become even more contaminated.
Therefore, sustainability concerns have influenced government regulations, corporate missions, and consumer demand. These concerns affect your job as an electronic manufacturer, designer, or engineer. You must responsibly produce products, remaining cognizant of the materials you use, and ensure every step in the production process counts. This need can be problematic if you use traditional conformal coatings to protect your components from environmental hazards.
The Problem with Traditional Conformal Coatings
Traditional conformal coatings such as acrylics, silicones, epoxies, and urethanes, must be cured to achieve optimum protective qualities. This curing process can produce solvents and other volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are in turn released into the atmosphere as coatings are cured or dried. These volatile organics can then enter into chemical reactions, form free radicals with UV light, or decompose, causing ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere as greenhouse gases.
However, there are alternatives that manufacturers and their designers can use to avoid the ramifications of VOCs. Solventless coatings, such as thin-film solutions and nanocoatings, create far fewer vapors and volatiles, contributing less to troubling environmental trends such as global warming.
You must responsibly produce products, remaining cognizant of the materials you use, and ensure every step in the production process counts.
Why You Need a Sustainable Solution
Social and Ethical Responsibility
Global carbon dioxide emissions will increase to 43.08 billion metric tons in 2050. Compare this number to the 35.3 billion metric tons generated in 2018, and it is easy to surmise that the problem is escalating. Something must be done about the increasing production of pollutants, and as an electronics provider, it is your social and ethical responsibility to take action.
Meeting RoHS, California Proposition 65, and REACH regulations are critical for electronic product providers. RoHS compliance involves avoiding certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. California Prop 65 mandates that if a product has any substance or chemical that may cause cancer or congenital disabilities, there must be a warning label about the substances it contains. Meanwhile, REACH is a European Union regulation, with a compiled chemical list of “Substances of Very High Concern” (SVHC) regularly updated. It’s critical that manufacturers today select coating materials that pass or exceed these regulations.
Required Halogen-free Options
Manufacturers, designers, and engineers are encountering new industry requirements mandating the use of “halogen-free” materials. Halogenated plastics release potentially lethal gases (within restricted environments) into the atmosphere. These gases can build in concentration, creating hazardous work and environmental conditions. Therefore, the rise in demand for halogen-free materials can easily be understood.
It is also easier to dispose of halogen-free materials. Although halogens used in electronic products may not cause direct harm to the environment, if proper disposal and recycling methods are not used, or if a fire is involved, halogenated materials can be released, causing harm.
HZO: A Sustainable Solution
We offer non-halogenated material at HZO, and to keep our thin-film solutions environmentally friendly, we’ve put practices and methods in place before, during, and after manufacturing. Our proprietary coating equipment applies thin-film protection in a controlled, safe environment, augmented by checks and balances throughout the procedure to keep the building, staff, and the atmosphere free of pollutants.
With the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) application process and its variants (plasma-enhanced CVD), our thin-film Parylene and nanocoatings polymerize as they deposit from vapor states to solid. These methods require no curing, catalysts, or hardeners. No notable by-products are released during the process, unlike some traditional conformal coatings such as epoxies or silicones.
As forecasts predict that e-waste generation will grow to around 80 million metric tons by 2030, thin-film protection can be used to decrease that amount by increasing product reliability. This reliability reduces premature end-of-life product failures, minimizing e-waste.
At HZO, we’re continually discovering, advancing, and perfecting new ways to provide next-generation coatings for your business, whether your concerns are about sustainability, cost, or protection capabilities. Reach out to us today to learn more about your protection possibilities.
As forecasts predict that e-waste generation will grow to around 80 million metric tons by 2030, thin-film protection can be used to decrease that amount by increasing product reliability.
Ryan is a 9-year veteran to the world of protecting electronics from harsh environments and a lover of all things technology.