Printed circuit boards are expensive and inherently delicate. They are particularly sensitive to water exposure, whether submersion, a splash or even fog. The delicate nature of PCBs challenges electronics manufacturers to find reliable, economical and high-performance materials that minimize or mitigate the damage that compromises safety and operation of electronic devices. Increasingly designers want to build water protection into the design to ensure product performance and reduce device failures. As a result of claims by several leading mobile brands, consumers now are looking for water resistance and protection as a feature of new and improved devices.
Yet we all know unsealed printed circuit boards absorb moisture from the air and can fail. Traditional approaches to protecting critical components of electronic equipment have been either insufficient or expensive. Consumers have had to rely on specialty cases to protect their devices, which took away from the integrity and functionality of the design. In the last few years, engineers have tried to seal devices with gaskets, but because most devices have several ports it was a challenge to seal the device in an aesthetic manner. Even when successful, gaskets are prone to failure over time.
Rather than addressing the issue from the inside out, surface modification technologies can be used as an outer skin of the PCB. These water-resistance technologies have generally fallen into two categories: conformal coatings that repels fluids but require some level of masking or "keep-out" areas, and vacuum-deposited coatings (which also require masking) such as parylene-based treatments. Both processes are tedious, complex and can be expensive.
Aculon’s NanoProof® surface treatments create a third category. It’s a no mask solution based on proprietary hydro/oleophobic coatings that are implemented on an inline basis. NanoProof® surpasses competitive coatings in terms of performance, ease of use, and offers a range of treatments available to meet performance, thickness, application and economic needs. They also often provide the benefits no masking and eliminate the need for costly capital investment and mitigates the bottlenecking batch process of vacuum-based manufacturing or masking operations. Aculon’s NanoScale Repellency Technology provides water protection from humidity to full water immersion for any number of consumer electronics including cell phones, hearing aids, Bluetooth devices and household “smart” electronics.
The IPX standard provides a clearer picture of how water resistant a component is compared to vague marketing terms such as 'waterproof'. In IPX testing which ranges from IPX0, or not water-resistant at all, to IPX8, which is suitable to continual immersion in water. Aculon’s NanoProof® protects electronics against accidental water damage (NanoProof 1.0) to IPX7+, immersion in water at one meter depth for 30 minutes (NanoProof® 7.0, 8.0).
In today’s competitive marketplace, where users are so attached to their electronic devices, water resistance isn’t sufficient anymore. Market intelligence firm IDC says liquid is the second most common cause of damage to smart phones. Devices coated with Aculon’s NanoProof® achieve longer lifetimes under ‘real-use’ circumstances in environmentally harsh conditions.