Selective Conformal Coating Machines: Protect Your PCBs

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are at the heart of countless electronics products we use daily. To ensure reliable performance, PCBs often require protective conformal coatings to shield them from moisture, corrosion, contaminants and other environmental threats.

Traditionally, entire circuit boards were coated, but selective conformal coating machines now allow applying coatings only where needed. This optimized approach improves quality, speed and costs.

Selective conformal coating machines utilize automated precision dispensing methods to selectively apply protective materials just to components requiring shielding on a PCB.

This provides maximum protection while minimizing coating usage, material costs and production time versus coating an entire board. Selective coating optimizes PCB manufacturing by reducing defects and delays while boosting yields.

Define what a selective conformal coating machine is

A selective conformal coating machine is an automated system designed to apply protective coatings onto specific, targeted areas of a printed circuit board (PCB) rather than coating the entire board. These machines use precision dispensing methods and computer vision guidance to deposit conformal coating materials only where needed on a PCB.

Selective conformal coating machines analyze each PCB and then utilize technologies like inkjet printing, atomizing spray nozzles, or micro-dispensing to selectively coat only certain components, circuits, or surfaces determined to be vulnerable to environmental contaminants, moisture, corrosion, or electrical shorts. This optimized approach maximizes efficiency compared to blanket coating a whole board.

By intelligently applying coating only to solder joints, connectors, components, and other areas requiring protection, selective conformal coating machines minimize waste, cost, and production time while still fully protecting each circuit board.

Explain the benefits of using a selective conformal coating machine.

  • Optimized Protection – Selective coating focuses on protective materials only where needed most to shield vulnerable PCB components from moisture, corrosion, and contaminants.
  • Improved Reliability – Reducing electrical shorts and early component failures improves product reliability and lifespan.
  • Faster Processing – Selective coating minimizes coating material usage which speeds production throughput versus coating entire boards.
  • Cost Savings – Using less coating materials and minimizing waste cuts overall conformal coating costs.
  • Customization – Intelligent dispensing can coat varying components for flexible PCB protection.
  • Operator Safety – Enclosed machines protect operators when handling hazardous coating materials.
  • Reduced Defects – Precision dispensing minimizes coating errors and rework compared to manual coating methods.
  • Sustainability – Optimized coating reduces waste materials and hazardous chemical use versus over-coating whole boards.

In summary, selectively applying conformal coatings only where PCB protection is essential provides quality, efficiency, and flexibility improvements versus traditional conformal coating methods.

Discuss the different types of selective conformal coating machines.

There are several main types of selective conformal coating machines that use different precision dispensing methods:

  • Jetting Machines: These deposit conformal coatings through piezoelectric, thermal inkjet, or pneumatic micro-jetting nozzles. This provides a non-contact method for highly precise, variable coating. Popular for acrylic, silicone, and UV-curable coatings.
  • Atomizing Spray Systems: These use pressurized air and valves to produce a fine, targeted spray of conformal coating droplets onto specific PCB areas. Allows fast material switching for high-mix lines.
  • Micro-Dispensing Systems: Use positive displacement or time-pressure methods to dispense exact, micro-liter amounts of coatings. Suitable for selectively coating components, edge connectors, and small surface mount devices.
  • Hybrid Machines: Combine jetting, spraying, and micro-dispensing modules for maximum coating flexibility within one platform. Allows matching specific coating methods to each application area.
  • In-Line Systems: Integrate selective coating into automated PCB assembly lines for integrated, high-volume production.

Leading manufacturers like Nordson ASYMTEK, Precision Valve & Automation, and Ultrasonic Systems provide a range of selective coating machines scaled from prototype needs to high-volume production.

Explain the different types of conformal coatings that are available.

Here are some of the main types of conformal coating materials that can be applied by selective coating machines:

  • Acrylic – Affordable polymer that dries quickly. Offers good humidity and chemical resistance.
  • Silicone – Flexible with excellent thermal stability. Resists moisture, corrosion, and contaminants.
  • Urethane – Tough polymer with good abrasion and chemical resistance.
  • Parylene – Provides excellent moisture and chemical barrier with high dielectric strength.
  • Epoxy – Hard, durable coating with outstanding adhesion and barrier properties.
  • Polyurethane – Flexible coating with good abrasion and chemical resistance.
  • UV Curable – Fast curing with acrylic, urethane, or silicone polymers. Requires UV light to cure.

Important selection criteria are dielectric properties, flexibility, temperature resistance, moisture protection needs, reparability, and compatibility with circuit board materials. Machines can quickly change between multiple coating options.

The coating material and thickness are chosen based on the specific environmental threats and production requirements for each application.

Discuss the factors to consider when choosing a selective conformal coating machine.

Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a selective conformal coating machine:

  • Production Volume – Match the machine’s throughput speed and capacity to your volume needs. Lower volumes may use manual or benchtop systems.
  • PCB Size – Choose a machine with adequate clearance, stages, and handling capabilities for your PCB dimensions.
  • Coating Precision – Assess the precision and layer thickness control required. Tighter tolerances demand micro-jetting or microdispensing.
  • Coating Materials – Select systems that are compatible with and quick changeover between your required coating types like acrylic, silicone, urethane, etc.
  • Programmability – More complex PCBs benefit from customizable coating programs and machine vision optimization.
  • Integration – Evaluate options for in-line integration into your assembly process vs. standalone batch coating.
  • Budget – Machines range from tens of thousands for manual coaters to over $k for high-volume, automated precision systems.
  • Technical Support – Look for responsive supplier training, programming, and maintenance support.
  • Ease of Use – Simpler operation reduces operator errors and training time.

Consider factors like production needs, PCB variables, precision requirements, and total cost of ownership when investing in selective coating equipment.

How selective conformal coating machines are used in different industries

Here are some examples of how selective conformal coating machines are utilized in various industries:

  • Electronics – Selectively coat exposed solder joints, connectors, and components on PCBs in products like phones, computers, and IoT devices to prevent moisture and corrosion damage.
  • Automotive – Protect engine control units and other automotive electronics from vibration, fluids, and environmental contamination through selective coating.
  • Aerospace/Aviation – Shield sensitive avionics circuitry from humidity and signal interference using precision jetted coatings on components.
  • Medical – Safeguard medical devices like defibrillators and diagnostic equipment by coating moisture-sensitive electronics to avoid shorts or failures.
  • Military/Defence – Apply customized protective coatings on tracking, navigation, communications, and weapon systems to extend reliability in rugged environments.
  • Telecommunications – Coat specific RF/microwave circuits, antennas, and terminals to prevent corrosion and electrical leakage in base stations and networks.
  • Marine – Protect onboard navigation, depth sounding, and communications equipment from salt spray and humidity corrosion at sea through targeted coatings.

The optimized efficiency, automation, and precision of selective conformal coating improves reliability while lowering production costs across safety-critical industries where circuit protection is paramount.


Selective conformal coating systems are an advanced solution to protect PCBs from contamination, moisture, corrosion failures, and costs. Their automated dispensing precision, minimized waste, and custom configurations maximize quality, speed, reliability, and budget efficiency across varied applications from aerospace to medical electronics.

Let me know if this revised article better focuses on the provided semantic keywords related to protection, reliability, production efficiency, and customization. I can update it further based on any additional feedback.

Learning Has No Limits

ElectronicsTalk aware of this philosophy all the time, like the over 2 decades we are still serving countless individual for their PCB assebly business, check the guide we prepared here for SMT Conveyor.