Conformal coating is highly preferred in PCBs, which are used in high-end applications in aerospace & defense and automotive industries. The aerospace & defense industry uses conformal coatings in space shuttle controls & systems, aircraft communications & controls, satellite systems, robotic cable assemblies, lightening protection chassis, and other similar technologies.
For the aerospace & defense industry, reliability on conformal coatings performance is the overriding issue. Conformal coatings in aerospace electronics must perform in extreme environments and hazardous situations. There is a difference in the electronics used in the aerospace & defense industry and the ones used in other industries. Electronics used in this industry are smaller in size that reduces the weight of the components and increases their functionality as well as performance. New technologies need to be thoroughly tested to check their reliability before they can be used in critical applications.
PCBs used in the aerospace & defense sector have the tolerance levels of ±0.0005 on etched features. Conformal coatings should also meet specific aerospace standards such as RTCA-DO-160 and MIL-STD-810 in order to get reliability tag from end users. These factors prove the increased operational parameters for electronic components in the aerospace & defense industry. The growth in this industry is likely to slow down due to the COVID-19 pandemic since air travel has been restricted around the world. Almost every airline has grounded a majority of its aircraft and is deferring orders for new ones as well. Aircraft manufacturing, too was halted due to complete lockdowns in countries of North America and Europe, which are the hubs of aircraft manufacturing.
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APAC is the largest market of conformal coatings, and this dominance is expected to continue till 2025. China is the key market in the region, consuming more than half of the demand for conformal coatings, followed by Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. These countries are expected to witness a steady increase in consumption from 2020 to 2025. The region contributes close to 90% of PCB production in the world, and market is mainly driven by the presence of a large number of leading global electronics companies. PCB industry is quite fragmented as there are more than 100 companies that constitute close to 90% of overall PCB revenues and most of them belong to APAC, more so in China & Taiwan. Recent years have seen a lot of PCB manufacturing shifts to APAC due to cost-effectiveness and closer access to customers in the region, hence the increase in consumption of conformal coatings.
The key companies in the conformal coatings are Henkel (Germany), Illinois Tool Work (US), Shin-Etsu Chemical (Japan), Dow (US), H.B. Fuller (US), Chase Corporation (US), Electrolube (UK), Dymax Corporation (US), MG Chemical (Canada) and Specialty Coating System (US).
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