Federal Ministry of Education and Resarch, Germany:
Selective Corrosion Protection of Electronic Components by PlasmaPlus® Barrier Coating

Within the framework of the joint project Protect-Select funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the companies Siemens, Epcos and Infineon, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials, and Plasmatreat as a plant manufacturer have got together.
The objective was to give electronic components a thin and long-time stable, selective anti-corrosion coating as a protection against corrosive influences and extreme climatic conditions, and all this in an economical and resource-efficient manner. The deposition of these coatings was accomplished by means of the PlasmaPlus® process providing for plasma polymerization at atmospheric pressure.

The Starting Point

Affording electronic units and components selective protection against climatic effects is of utmost importance to the reliability of a wide variety of products. Almost half of all defects on modern passenger cars are attributable to climatically induced aging and corrosion damage to electronic components. Protection against humidity, chemicals and harmful gases - even under extreme temperatures - is an essential prerequisite for avoiding such system failures.
These requirements are presently mainly fulfilled by coatings from paint systems, polymer embedding compounds or gels (silicones). Their use, however, is reaching its limits in terms of economy and ecology given that their application is laborious and time-intensive. The usually solvent-based systems (VOC) can only be applied with comparatively thick coating thicknesses and little selectivity. Depending on the type of protective coating, additional disadvantages may occur such as poor heat dissipation, absorption of moisture, delamination of the applied overcoat or undesired attenuation of the sensors.

Successes

The joint project Protect-Select succeeded in the development of a new coating process for electronic components using the Openair® plasma technology. By employing the PlasmaPlus® process it is possible to effectively deposit thin, transparent and insulating plasma-polymer anti-aging coatings and to selectively protect electronic units and especially printed circuit boards. Thanks to the high barrier effect of the thin coatings, not only a longer lifetime and product safety can be achieved but also a significant cost reduction.
The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the announcement »Smartplas« and »Mikroplas« and the project reference number 13N9244 to 13N9248 and supported by the project promotor VDI Technologiezentrum in Düsseldorf.

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