Flash memory cards contain complex circuitry and components. These sensitive systems are often exposed to extreme conditions, especially when they are used in rugged applications. The key to protecting them is conformal coating. Conformal coating is a must-have on industrial grade embedded storage, so that memory cards and the valuable data that they hold are protected from environmental conditions that could cause damage. There are multiple kinds of conformal coating that can be found on memory cards. Here is what you need to know about conformal coating types and why they are important.
Conformal coating, as the name suggests, is a surface coating that conforms to the circuit board of the device to which it is applied. It is used to insulate and to prevent surface disturbances that can be caused by environmental or operational conditions. Conformal coatings are breathable, so they are not impenetrable. This feature is important, since it allows moisture to escape from the circuit board surface. Conformal coatings are designed to be easy to remove and repair, so that damage to the coating does not render the device itself unusable.
Conformal coatings can be made of several different materials, including acrylic, polyurethane, and silicone. Acrylic is generally considered to be the easiest type of conformal coating to remove and repair, since it can be treated with stripping chemicals, while silicone is the most difficult, since it is chemical-resistant. UV-cured conformal coatings can also be challenging to remove.
There are several benefits to using conformal coatings. They are lightweight and allow you to protect your memory cards without having bulky, extraneous protectors over them. This is particularly beneficial for memory cards used in physically small applications. A conformal coating also protects the cards from environmental conditions that could interfere with operations. For industrial storage in applications that are used in rugged environments with temperature extremes and mechanical shocks, this is especially important, since it helps the storage system avoid damage.
Conformal coating also helps to protect the circuit board from moisture and corrosive elements, but the breathable nature of it ensures that any moisture that builds up inside the card does not stay there. The option to remove and repair conformal coating also makes it the ideal choice to protect memory devices.