The Types of Maskings for Circuit Boards

When you go to paint your living room walls, you always tape off important areas. Don’t want paint in your wall socket or on your base boards? Then tape them! Just like your living room walls, we don’t always want our coatings to cover in certain areas – so we tape those areas! And just like painters tape, there are lots of options to choose from each with it’s own set of benefits.

What is Conformal Coating? 

Conformal coating is basically a thin film of polymeric material that covers and conforms to printed circuit boards and electronic assemblies. Its main purpose is to protect electronics from environmental elements, chemical attack, and corrosion. This type of coating also acts as a protective barrier or shield for a PCB.

Why mask a printed circuit board? 

Just like your base boards or wall sockets in your living room, printed circuit boards often need masking to cover contact points and any other points that clients do not want to be coated such as connectors, test sites, and pins. These points are often where the electrical continuity needs to be maintained. If that is coated, you won’t be maintaining much of anything! There are other points of a board that need to be masked, like unsealed components (relays or open inductors), through holes, and even LED surfaces where it changes how the light comes through.

Masking Tape 

Masking tape is a VERY common method for before coating procedures. There are typically several locations on a board that have to remain coating free (again, base boards!). The main purpose of masking tapes is to seal off and prevent migration of the conformal coating. 

Polyimide Tape

Polyimide tape is flexible, doesn’t leave behind residue, and comes in a variety of different sizes. Not to mention it is one of the most heat resistant tapes on the market. It’s used a lot of the time when a product needs to be unaffected by acids and oils and needs to ensure its electrical components are at a consistent temperature. Plus, a lot of us turn to polyimide tape to make sure our electronics don’t catch fire.

Low-ESD Polyimide Tape

This is the ideal tape for when there needs to be almost no static. Plus it still has a high heat resistant like the other polyamide tape.


Die-cut tapes were developed to make the masking process faster and more precise. They come in an array shapes and sizes, like circles, to make the application for a complicated design much easier. It’s, for lack of better terms, basically grabbing a circle, sticking it on, and repeat.

Crepe Masking Tape

Cheap and low risk of static damage compared to polyester tapes. The only drawback is that it isn’t flexible as polyimide so it won’t conform as well. However, it does use a rubber-based adhesive. 

Additional tapes include masking caps/plugs, custom boots, vinyl caps, custom plugs, and masking fluids/gels

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