Masking surface-mounted electrical components is a crucial part of printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing. During production, conformal coating is applied to the surface of the PCB to protect its delicate components from moisture and environment exposure that could lead to corrosion and component failure. The conformal coating is a polymeric film manually applied in thicknesses as small as 25 microns. However, to maintain electrical continuity, conformal coating cannot be applied areas such as pins, connectors, test sites, LEDs, and through holes.  These sensitive areas are masked off before the coating procedure. Typical masking materials include masking tapes and dots, low-ESD polyimide tape, and temporary or permanent protective fluids and gels. 

Despite the availability of selective conformal coating equipment, investing in expensive capital equipment is incredibly cost prohibitive for small-volume PCB manufacturing. In these cases, the practice of manually applying conformal coating is still prevalent, but can lead to imprecise coating due to human error. In the upcoming webinar, we will discuss how re-usable masking shields – also known as boots – can be 3D printed using Essentium’s ESD TPU materials. These re-usable boots are inexpensive, safe for PCBs, have a quick turnaround time, and can be easily customized to fit various component sizes and shapes.  

By the end of the webinar, we’ll have discussed the need for component masking in PCB production, and how 3D printed ESD boots can be a cost-effective, customizable, and reusable tool for component masking operations.