Solvents can be used safely. However, the exposure of the operator to the solvent fumes must be REGULARLY measured and RECORDED. This ensures a safe operating environment and if an OSHA problem does arise in the future, evidence exists to rule out the conformal coating process as the culprit.
The regular measurement of solvent fumes can be a low cost, easy exercise using products such as Solvent Exposure Monitors (SEA’s). SEA’s can easily be integrated into the coating process, continuously monitoring the solvents and raising an alarm if needed when exposure limits are reached. This ensures operators stay safe and have the confidence to use the processes safely.
Option 2: Change to a safer conformal coating material
Solvent-less conformal coatings are now widely available and are a seamless replacement due to the advances in technology. Types available include water based acrylics and polyurethanes, solvent-less silicones and UV curable acrylics. All do a similar job in protecting the boards compared to solvent based materials.
Changing materials would mean no need to measure solvent fumes, operators would not be exposed to hazardous coatings, and litigation due to employee sickness would be much less likely.
Option 3: Use a Subcontract Coating Service.
This solution using an independent coating service eliminates all the hazards of solvents immediately. Allowing another company to utilize the harmful coating materials means no re-qualification is required without needing to invest in operator safety and equipment.
There are three options for companies using solvent based conformal coatings.
- Measure the solvent fumes regularly to ensure the operators are always safe.
- Change to a solvent-less conformal coating eliminating the issue completely.
- Subcontract the hazardous process to a coating service.
Diamond-MT staff are experts in all aspects of conformal coating whether it is providing the coating application equipment including spray booths and dip systems, subcontract conformal coating service, and providing solvent exposure monitoring equipment.