Sustainable Automotive Conformal Coatings: Responsible Reliability

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February 26, 2021

With the electrification of vehicles, electronic component performance has never been so important. Electronics are more critical to the vehicle’s reliable operation as more tasks become automated and electric vehicles (EVs) incorporate many more of these parts to fulfill vital functions.

While product design has dramatically transformed for the automotive industry, the application environment is still the same. The automotive service environment is as severe as ever, exposing electronics to threats such as excessive electrical activity or minimum and maximum automotive operating temperatures, along with splashes, immersion, condensation, humidity, and exposure to chemicals such as corrosive gases, oil, salt-spray, antifreeze, or brake fluids. Proper protection for these critical components is vital.

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

Rethinking Automotive Component Protection

New challenges call for new ways of thinking about electronic protection. Increasingly, automotive product design teams use thin-film conformal coatings as protection for on-board electronics to avoid the excess bulk and weight of enclosures and seals as they strive to pack more PCBAs under the hood, concurrently making vehicles lighter. These polymeric materials are applied as a thin barrier film to PCBA and component surfaces, providing lightweight protection from the inside out.

However, the conformal coating material and coating application method must be chosen with care to minimize coating defects, maximize protection performance, and meet corporate social responsibility demands and environmental regulations. The solution must both be sustainable and robust, adding a layer of complexity for engineers as they struggle to select the proper protective material.

There is a need to balance end-product reliability and environmental acceptability to choose a sustainable conformal coating solution. The following issues must be considered:

  • Low and zero VOC conformal coating materials are a necessity to meet current and probable future solvent-emission regulations.
  • Other chemicals in prospective coating processes may be banned by international regulations such as REACH or RoHS, or company policy.
  • An increased need for defect-free manufacturing velocity is an issue as the industry places more emphasis on lean manufacturing. Higher yield conformal coating processes, faster velocities, faster cycle time, and greater automation levels are required.

View a webinar about proven corrosion resistant methods delivered by Dr. Sean Clancy, Director of Coating Technology at HZO & Anti-Corrosion Expert

Overcoming Sustainable Material Challenges

At HZO, Parylene conformal coating is one option in our Spectrum of Protection™ coating solutions portfolio. It is REACH and RHoS compliant, meeting sustainability regulations. With a sustainable application process, chemical vapor deposition (CVD), Parylene polymerizes as it deposits from a gaseous state to a solid. This method does not require curing of any type, nor does it require a catalyst or hardener.

Addressing Performance Requirements

Parylene also provides excellent conformal coating protection with a superior ability to withstand exposure to corrosives and contaminants, providing high dielectric strength and good thermal properties, all while maintaining a reliable level of performance throughout extreme temperature fluctuations. Despite its superior protection capabilities, Parylene can have a coating thickness of as little as 2 microns, the thinnest and most lightweight of all conformal coating materials.

Surmounting Manufacturing Issues with HZO

We’ve spent much time developing our intellectual property portfolio of over 370 assets, building proprietary equipment with optimized cubed chambers (the largest in the industry). Our equipment can house any electronic device, coating with quick cycle times without compromising the durability or transmittance of our Parylene coating.

We’ve also driven down the masking and demasking costs (a process needed to avoid areas where coatings are not preferred or required, including test points, connectors, grounding pads, and select circuitry) with automated material removal through laser ablation and plasma ashing processes.

Download our automotive fact sheet

The conformal coating material must be chosen with care to meet corporate social responsibility demands and environmental regulations.

Learn More

Walking the tightrope between reliable performance and sustainability can be unnerving as you design and develop products where lives hang in the balance. Contact one of our SMEs to find out more about sustainable conformal coatings that provide exceptional performance.

Parylene provides excellent conformal coating protection with a superior ability to withstand exposure to corrosives and contaminants.


Ryan 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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