Potting electronics involves covering electronic components and assemblies with a protective resin in order to shield them from external hazards, increasing product durability and safety. This process can guard against damage from:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Dust
  • Heat
  • Physical force
  • Chemicals
  • Tampering

And can also provide visible protection for intellectual property and consumer information.

 

The process of potting

In the same way a plant can be added to a pot and its delicate root system protected by the addition of soil, potting  electronics and assemblies involves placing components inside a suitable container, which is then filled with curable liquid to encapsulate and protect them.

There are three main types of potting liquid used, depending on the specific requirements of a project: epoxies, urethanes and silicones. The choice of material will depend on:

  • Levels of resistance to relevant hazards
  • Compatibility with potentially sensitive components
  • Production considerations; for example, curing time
  • Physical properties; for example, flexibility and colour
  • Cost

 

What is the difference between potting and encapsulation?

The terms ‘potting’ and ‘encapsulation’ are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference. In the potting process, the ‘pot’ or container that is filled with resin becomes part of the finished component; whereas for encapsulation, once the resin has hardened, the container is discarded, leaving only the component and its resin shield.

 

Why is potting so important?

As a manufacturer, you need to be certain that your products can withstand the elements and a number of different environments. Without the protection afforded by potting and encapsulation, the safety, robustness and lifespan of your product will not stand up to that of your competitors and your sales, reputation and repeat custom could suffer. Alternatives to potting include conformal coating and sealed housing, but these may be less cost-effective in the long-term depending on the application.

Copper & Optic can help you decide which components need to be protected – whether it’s PCBs, cables and harnesses, or fibre optics – before finding a bespoke solution to ensure the choice of potting materials are suited for each application. For more information about our services and how we can help you, please use our contact form.