Everything You Need to Know About Potting Compound and What They’re For
What is potting? Put simply, it’s the process of filling the cavity inside an entire electronic assembly with one of the many types of potting compounds. A potting compound provides protection for delicate electronics against a wide variety of potential hazards. The practice is widespread across many industries today.
What Does Potting Mean?
The phrase potting compound really does mean what you think it does. The process creates a pot in which electronics can safely reside, the same way that you would pot a plant. In some cases, the external casing that is used to contain the potting compound as it cures can be removed afterward, with nothing but the compound itself holding everything together.
How Does Potting Work?
The potting process relies on a variety of different potting compounds. They can be made from a range of materials, but all share a few common properties. They all start out as a gel or liquid that can be poured or injected into the electrical assembly, filling all void space. The compound then cures, providing a solid enclosure around all electrical components.
During the process itself, there may be other important steps. Some potting compounds can contain bubbles that must be eliminated to remove void space. Others produce heat during the curing process or can change in volume, requiring careful planning and choosing the right material.
What Potting compound is used For?
Potting compounds provide important protection for a variety of different electrical components. In many cases, the size of components and their proximity to each other makes other types of protection unviable. With the right potting compound, electronics can be protected from:
- Excess moisture penetrating the assembly and damaging components
- Rapid shifts in temperature causing unsustainable thermal expansion
- Shorts and faults between components within the assembly
- Physical shock breaking components
- Chemical contaminants corroding the assembly
What is potting for? It’s an effective method for protecting delicate electronics from just about every threat all at once.
What Materials Are Used in Potting?
What does potting mean for electronics manufacturing? It means that they need to choose the right materials for their unique applications. There are many different potting compounds out there to choose from, each of which could be the perfect solution for a given application.
Overall, potting compounds are generally categorized into three main types:
- Epoxy potting compounds
- Polyurethane potting compounds
- Silicone potting compounds
Each of these categories has many distinct formulas that further refine their specific properties for individual applications. There are other types as well that are used for less common applications, but almost all potting compounds fall into these three categories.
How Do Manufacturers Choose Potting Compound?
A manufacturer has many questions to consider when choosing a potting compound. What does potting mean for manufacturing costs? What are the primary threats that must be addressed? Finding the right choice takes careful consideration of the benefits and downsides of different potting compounds. Making the right choice can help them produce a superior product, but making the wrong choice could have disastrous consequences.