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PCB/PCBA knowledge
Waterproof PCB – The Ultimate Guide

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are essential components in modern equipment and electronics. And, with the advancement of technology, the demand for waterproof PCB is increasing. 

If you’re looking for a way to protect your electronics from the elements, you need to consider using a waterproof PCB.

Waterproof PCBs are specially designed to protect your electronics from water and other liquids, making them perfect for harsh environments.

This guide will discuss everything you need to know about waterproof PCB, including what they are, their benefits, application fields, how to waterproof your PCB, and much more.

We’ll also provide tips on choosing the right waterproof PCB for your project. So if you’re ready to protect your electronics from the rain, snow, and sleet, keep reading!

Table of Contents

What is a waterproof PCB?

A waterproof printed circuit board (PCB) is designed to remain unaffected by water, moisture, and other environmental conditions. Waterproof PCB can withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, and even chemical exposure. 

Waterproof PCB
Waterproof PCB

This can be done by either coating the PCB with a water-resistant sealant or creating the board with features that keep liquids from entering the circuitry. 

They can be found in various industries, including automotive, medical, aerospace, telecommunications, and defense. Waterproof PCBs are highly reliable and used in applications that require robustness and high performance.

Benefits of waterproof PCBs

Waterproof PCBs, or Printed Circuit Boards, are becoming increasingly popular in the electronics industry for their superior performance and reliability. 

Waterproof PCBs offer several benefits over traditional non-waterproof circuit boards, making them an attractive choice for many applications. These benefits include:

1.  Waterproof
One of the primary benefits of waterproof PCB is that they are waterproof! This means they are not susceptible to water damage, which can be a major problem with traditional PCBs.

Waterproof PCB can be used in various applications where water resistance is required, such as in marine electronics or products exposed to high humidity.

2.  More durable
Another benefit of waterproof PCB is that they are more durable than traditional PCBs. This is because the materials used to make them are more resistant to physical and chemical damage.

Waterproof PCB can withstand more wear and tear and are less likely to be damaged during manufacturing or assembly.

3.  Better electrical properties
Waterproof PCBs also have better electrical properties than traditional PCBs. This is because the materials used to make them have lower dielectric constants, meaning they can carry signals with less attenuation. Waterproof PCBs have better thermal conductivity to dissipate heat more effectively.

4.  Increased reliability
Because of their improved physical and electrical properties, waterproof PCBs are also more reliable than traditional PCBs.

This means that they are less likely to fail during use and are more likely to perform as expected over their lifetime.

5.  Lower cost
One of the surprising benefits of waterproof PCB is that they can be cheaper to manufacture than traditional PCBs.

This is because the manufacturing process for waterproof PCB is more straightforward and does not require as many steps as the process for traditional PCBs.

The materials used to make waterproof PCBs are often less expensive than the materials used for traditional PCBs

Application fields of waterproof PCBs

Application of Waterproof PCBs
Application of Waterproof PCBs

The application fields for waterproof PCB are vast. They can be used in any application where water resistance is important, including:

1.  Consumer electronics
Waterproof PCBs are used in various consumer electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices. PCBs can help to protect electronic components from water damage, making the devices more durable.

2.  Medical devices
Waterproof PCBs are also used in medical devices, such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). The PCBs can help to prevent moisture and other liquids from damaging the electronic components, which could lead to malfunction or failure of the device.

3.  Military and aerospace
Waterproof PCBs are used in military and aerospace applications where reliability and durability are critical. The PCBs can help to protect the electronic components from harsh environments, such as extreme temperatures and humidity.

4.  Automotive
Waterproof PCBs are used in various automotive applications, such as infotainment systems, navigation systems, and engine control units. The PCBs can help to prevent water and other liquids from damaging the electronic components, which could lead to malfunction or failure of the system.

5.  Industrial
Waterproof PCBs are used in various industrial applications, such as process control systems and factory automation systems. The PCBs can help to prevent moisture and other liquids from damaging the electronic components, which could lead to malfunction or failure of the system.

6.  Other applications
Waterproof PCBs are also used in various other applications, such as security systems, lighting systems, and power supplies.

How to waterproof your PCB?

How to waterproof your PCB
How to waterproof your PCB

This process is relatively simple and can be done in just a few steps with the proper knowledge and materials. Below we’ll discuss the best practices for waterproofing your PCB.

Step 1:  Clean and prepare the surface
Start by cleaning the PCB with isopropyl alcohol or a general-purpose cleaner to remove any dirt, oil, or other contaminants from the surface. Once cleaned, use a lint-free cloth to dry the board entirely.

Step 2: Apply sealant or coating
Once the board is cleaned and dry, you can apply a sealant or coating to protect it from moisture. Several options are available, such as conformal coatings, potting compounds, and encapsulants. Choose the one best suited for your application.

Step 3: Test for waterproofing
Once the sealant or coating is applied, it’s important to test the board to ensure it is properly waterproofed. This can be done by submerging the board in a water bath and testing for leaks or other issues.

Step 4: Perform final inspection
Inspect the board again to ensure all the components are appropriately soldered and everything is functioning correctly.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your PCBs are properly waterproofed and able to withstand harsh environments.  This will help to ensure their reliability and durability in any application.

Best PCB waterproof materials and compounds

Using suitable waterproof PCB materials and compounds ensures that your PCBs can withstand harsh environments and perform reliably for years. 

Here are some of the most popular materials and compounds:
1. Silicone conformal coating
This type of conformal coating is usually a silicone-based material that provides excellent waterproofing and insulation. It is often used in automotive, military, and medical applications.

2. Epoxy potting compounds
Epoxy potting compounds are made from epoxy resin and can provide excellent waterproofing and insulation. It is often used in industrial and aerospace applications.

3. Encapsulants
Encapsulants are usually liquid polymers or acrylics that form a protective layer around the PCB components. They offer excellent waterproofing and insulation, but they must be cured before they can be used.

How to test a waterproof PCB?

Waterproof PCB must be tested to ensure they are functioning properly. This can be done by submerging the board in a water bath and testing for any signs of leakage, corrosion, or other issues.

You should also test the board’s electrical connections to ensure they are secure and not affected by contact with water. 

You should also ensure the board is functioning properly by running an electrical test.

How to test a waterproof PCB
How to test a waterproof PCB

If any issues are found, adjustments or repairs should be made to ensure the board functions correctly and reliably in the future.   

Regularly inspect and regularly maintain your PCBs for optimal performance.  This includes cleaning the boards with isopropyl alcohol and applying a sealant or coating when necessary.

Tips for choosing the right waterproof PCBs for your project

By following the tips below, you can be confident that your waterproof PCB will perform reliably in any application. 

1. Consider your application and environment
When selecting a waterproof PCB, consider the type of application it will use and the environmental conditions it will be exposed to.  This will help you determine the best materials and compounds for your project.

2. Choose the right components
Make sure to select components that are rated for high-temperature or waterproof applications.  This will ensure your board can withstand harsh conditions and perform reliably for years.

3. Use a reputable manufacturer
It’s essential to use a reputable manufacturer with experience producing waterproof PCB.  Ask for references and read reviews before making your decision.

4. Test the boards
Test the boards regularly to ensure they are functioning properly and not affected by contact with water. This is especially important for industrial or medical applications.

How can waterproof PCBs be customized?

Waterproof PCB can be customized to suit any application.  This includes customizing the layout of the board and components, choosing from various materials and compounds, and adding additional features such as conformal coating or potting compound.

How can waterproof PCBs be customized
How can waterproof PCBs be customized

A good manufacturer can provide design support for your project and help you customize the boards to meet your specific needs. They can also provide advice on selecting the right materials and components for your application.

IBE can manufacture waterproof PCBs according to your different applications and requirements.

Conclusion

Waterproof PCBs are essential for applications that require reliable performance in harsh environments.  By using the best materials and compounds, testing the boards regularly, and choosing a reputable manufacturer, you can be confident that your waterproof PCB will perform reliably. And by customizing the boards to suit your application, you can be sure they will meet your requirements.  Waterproof PCBs are an excellent choice for reliable performance in any environment, whether you’re designing an industrial PCB or a medical device.

FAQ

A waterproof printed circuit board (PCB) is designed to remain unaffected by water, moisture, and other environmental conditions. Waterproof PCB can withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, and even chemical exposure.

  • Waterproof
  • More durable
  • Better electrical properties
  • Increased reliability
  • Lower cost
  • Consumer electronics
  • Medical devices
  • Military and aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Industrial
  • Other applications

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