What Are the Health Risks of Spray-On Conformal Coating?
The conformal coating spray technique applies a thin layer of protective coating on a PCB. Delivery methods include automated spray machines and manually spraying with aerosol cans or spray gun and an air compressor. Even in today’s world, many PCB assemblers employ manual coating operations. Regardless of the spray format, unless contained or evacuated, overspray and chemical mixing can exposes the user to various health hazards, including:
Inhalation of spray-on conformal coatings can have detrimental health effects due to the release of fine particles and vapors. These particles often consist of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can pose various risks to the respiratory system. Breathing in these chemicals repeatedly or in high concentrations can lead to respiratory irritation, including symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Furthermore, long-term exposure to VOCs can contribute to more serious health issues, such as respiratory conditions like asthma or even certain cancers.
Direct contact with spray-on conformal coatings can be harmful to the skin. These coatings may contain chemicals that cause skin irritation, leading to redness, itching, and discomfort. In some cases, individuals may also experience allergic reactions, which causes more severe symptoms such as swelling, rashes, and difficulty breathing. Also, if these coatings are absorbed through the skin, they can enter the bloodstream. This can affect other organs or systems in the body and may lead to more serious health problems.
The strong chemicals present in spray-on coatings can lead to eye irritation when they make direct contact with the eyes. Additionally, when these coatings are applied, fine particles can become airborne and enter the eyes, causing further irritation. This can result in redness, itching, watering, and even temporary vision problems.
Coatings can pose a fire hazard if they come into contact with open flames, sparks, or electrical equipment. Due to their flammability, it is crucial to take necessary safety precautions like working in well-ventilated areas and ensuring proper equipment grounding.
How Does Automated Conformal Coating Increase Safety?
Manual coating methods that use sprays and brushes introduce staff members to hazardous chemicals, and production stops when an exposure occurs. Automated conformal coating methods use a conformal coating machine that automatically coats PCBs while workers are kept at a safe distance from the materials. This increases safety at your facility in the following ways:
Automated conformal coating provides a safer working environment by minimizing the risk of exposure to hazardous organic compounds found in certain conformal coatings. This is done by using advanced machinery that takes over most of the application process, limiting direct human contact with the coating materials. The chances of accidental inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion of harmful substances are significantly reduced. This ensures employees’ well-being and improves productivity in the manufacturing process.
Reduced Worker Fatigue
By replacing manual labor with machines, automation reduces the physical strain on workers. Additionally, machines are programmed to perform tasks accurately and efficiently, greatly decreasing the possibility of human errors. Automation contributes to improving the overall quality and output of operations. This enhanced precision streamlines workflows, reduces rework, and increases productivity, ultimately leading to cost savings and customer satisfaction.
Increased Accuracy and Minimized Waste
Automated conformal systems are highly accurate and precise, applying the exact amount of coating material to the intended surface. This eliminates the risk of human error, such as over spraying or overcoating that leads to excessive waste. By using the specified quantity of coating material efficiently, automated systems reduce the need for additional materials, saving costs and resources. Moreover, this precise application results in a cleaner operating environment, as there is no excess coating material to clean up or dispose of.
Read About the Advantages of Our Automated Conformal Coating Machines
Want to see examples of the Raphael 4040 in action? Check out our case studies and see how our clients have benefited from an Invention House partnership.
Increase Safety With Invention House’s Automated Conformal Coating Machine
Manual conformal coating methods are time-consuming, dangerous, and increase the likelihood of human error. Automated conformal spray machines are extremely expensive and still require masking in some cases. That’s why we created the Raphael 4040, our low-cost automated conformal coating robot that coats PCBs by meticulously following a programmed path, using a custom flow-through brush instead of a spray nozzle. With zero overspray, there is no waste, and in most cases, no component masking required.
Our automated conformal coating machine increases operator safety, optimizes productivity, and reduces waste.
How the Raphael 4040 Works
Precision peristaltic pumps deliver a precise mixture of coating and thinner to the brush stem, in which it is mixed before being applied to the PCB through the brush tip. Coating and thinner are stored in their original containers on the machine frame. Thus, no mixing! The brush is controlled over an X,Y, & Z path to coat components and avoid keep away areas. The brush can apply coating by direct contact with the board or by hovering and dripping coating into hard to reach spaces. The coating mixture and brush speed can be controlled from point to point and PCB front to back. The client provides a laptop on which Raphael’s routing software is managed. After an image of the PCB is uploaded, coating segments are created using clicks, commands, and a special integrated joystick. Conformal delivery via our precision brush means no overspray. Thus no masking! Multiple boards or panels can be held in the work area.
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