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Potting and Encapsulation Services for PCBs
Potting and encapsulation are two different techniques or methods used to cover the components and vias on printed circuit boards to protect them from external damage, vibration, contamination, and more. Potting is done with the help of compounds such as urethanes, epoxies and silicones. While they may be used interchangeably at times, the processes are different. Suntronic Inc. offers potting and encapsulation services as part of PCB manufacturing and assembly services. We offer a variety of PCB potting compounds and PCB encapsulations and can help you choose the right one depending on your application requirements.
What is Potting and Encapsulation?
As mentioned, potting and encapsulation services for PCBs comprise the usage of thermoplastic compounds, offering thermal insulation to the board components. Depending on application requirements, the PCB potting compounds mentioned may be used singly or mixed in the required proportions.
Potting: Potting fills a PCB enclosure with resin and is done on the entire board. This is done in vacuum chambers to ensure degassing so that there are no bubbles. Suntronic has vacuum chambers and proper equipment that allows us to decide on the compound proportion, set a flow rate, temperature.
Encapsulation: Encapsulation is a thin layer or coat of potting compounds applied on certain components, which resists environmental parameters, high temperatures, and so on.
Types of Potting Compounds We Offer
At Suntronic, we use a variety of potting compounds for PCBs in different proportions. Choosing the right compound depends on the application environment, and temperature. Here are some compounds we commonly use:
- Silicones: Silicone compounds are super flexible and can withstand a wide temperature range. They offer protection from UV light aside from moisture, chemicals, and other environmental parameters.
- Urethanes: These are suitable for very high and low temperature environments from -40 to 140 degrees Celsius. They are more flexible compared to epoxies; however, their chemical resistance is relatively low.
- Epoxies: While these are slightly more rigid than urethanes and silicones, they offer excellent mechanical strength and electrical insulation. They can also withstand temperatures as high as 200 degrees Celsius. However, they are not suitable for low temperatures as they become brittle.
- Heat Conducting Compounds: These are used in applications which generate a high amount of heat as they facilitate heat dissipation better than other compounds. These are thermally conductive and hence the insulation is minimal.
How PCB Potting and Encapsulation is Different from Conformal Coating?
Unlike potting and encapsulation, conformal coating is the application of dielectric layer on the board. It is a thin, non-conductive coating that does not add weight to the board. Potting compounds do add some weight. This thin layer also offers protection from thermal shocks, chemicals, moisture, and vibration. Since the layer is thin, the dimensions of the board remain unchanged. However, it is important to check the type of compound used for the process, its physical and chemical properties, and temperature resistance and weigh it against your operating environment. While potting certainly offers better protection against all the above parameters, you need to ensure it retains design flexibility and board dimensions as much as possible. Conformal coating may not be suitable for very high temperature applications or components with specific sensitivity threats.
Safety Tips for PCB Potting and Encapsulation
Due care must be taken when using potting and encapsulation compounds for PCBs. This is to ensure the safety of operators, equipment, and prevent damage to the board components. Here are some pointers.
- The potting compound may generate heat, and extra care should be taken for heat sensitive components on the board.
- Some compounds may shrink after they are poured in the enclosure. This may also hamper some components. Here, the right compound selection is crucial.
- Discuss your requirements thoroughly with your PCB assembly partner. This will help you select the right type of compound based on the nature of components, operating environment, and so on.
If you are a manufacturer of electromechanical or electronic equipment, you may require huge volumes of PCBAs with complex designs. Suntronic has you covered. Whether you need a quote or have any questions on availability of material compounds, we can help you. Contact us today for a quick discussion on our potting and encapsulation services for PCBs.