Apr 04, 2016
Whether called potting, sealing, ruggedizing or encapsulation, electrical equipment and electronic devices have long benefited from being encased against damage and the elements. Early examples included very basic materials such as tar and meltable rosins, which gave way to hot melt thermoplastics, and eventually led to today’s collection of reactive thermosetting materials providing a colossal spectrum of properties to choose from.
Full utilization of these high tech solutions is often not capitalized upon by the user or component manufacturer. Priority is placed upon the component itself, while encapsulation materials are thought of as secondary and default to the lowest gross cost choice. Selection of the most beneficial potting system can offer benefits not fully considered by the broad-brush stroke approach. Questions that should be asked when choosing the correct material include:
1. What other beneficial properties can be gained from the encapsulant material? These may include RF or UV shielding, conductivity of heat or current, vibration/noise reduction, weight reduction, color-coding for component identification, etc.
2. If any of these benefits can be built into the encapsulant, can they reduce my cost by eliminating another operation?
3. Is there new technology that can improve my overall output or reduce space required for staging or storage?
4. Will a more robust potting system increase quality and reduce warranty costs?
The ultimate goal of asking these questions is to identify ways of reducing costs indirectly or to increase capability without extra cost.
Common purposes for using encapsulation at all include such things as weather/environment protection and protection from physical damage, sometimes called ‘ruggedizing’. Considered far less often are benefits such as hiding circuit design, shielding, temperature range improvement, heat dissipation, flexibility and even light projection enhancements for the recently popular LED systems.
An annual review of your current encapsulation system will ensure your component is offering the greatest properties and most effective manufacturing plan. Selection of materials by the lowest cost per pound may be “penny wise and pound-foolish” and the real benefits may be found by a deeper dive into your process as a whole. Discuss your situation with the material experts; something new may bring your operation to the cutting edge rather than running with the pack.
Learn more about Tectorius' Tec-Fil. Tec-Fil products are reactive filling compounds used in a variety of assembly operations for encapsulating, potting, and ruggedizing.