Conformal coatings are applied during the manufacture and assembly of PCBs to protect the circuitry and components. The performance and condition of the PCB are safeguarded against moisture, corrosion, dust, chemicals and temperature, as well as where extreme climate or environmental conditions will lead to electronics failure if not suitably coated.
The conclusion comes from two linked projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee Knoxville:
One proves printed aluminium can at least equal and sometimes better the thermal conductivity of standard heatsink aluminium.
The second has developed genetic algorithms that make use of the freedom of shape available from 3D printing to design heatsinks that fit in the same space as their conventional cousins but work better.
World demand for 3D printers and related materials and software is projected to rise 21% per year to $5-billion in 2017