A Layer of Protection: A Quick History of Parylene Coating and Its Uses Across the Industries

A Layer of Protection: A Quick History of Parylene Coating and Its Uses Across the Industries

Polymer-based conformal coatings have been used for many years to protect delicate devices and provide other valuable types of functionality. Coatings made from the polymer parylene have become some of the most ubiquitous and frequently applied of all.

Despite having been around in their current form for a relatively short time, modern parylene coatings have virtually revolutionized a number of important industries. Coatings available from companies like the one online at https://pctconformalcoating.com/ deliver well-rounded performance that suits many applications perfectly. A quick look at the history of parylene-based coatings will reveal how much progress has been made in a relatively short time.

The Discovery of Parylene Sets a New Quest in Motion

Like many other polymers derived from benzene, parylene was first synthesized in a laboratory not long after World War II. In the course of various macro-molecular experiments, Polish-born, British-American chemist Michael Szwarc discovered that a polymeric form of benzene could be coaxed to decompose into a substance with a number of unusually interesting properties.

Chemists had long been interested in how widely available benzene could be turned into polymers that would suit particular industrial applications. With benzene being a natural byproduct of the distillation of petroleum, the dream of producing vast quantities of inexpensive but useful polymers had been too enticing to ignore.

A Breakthrough Makes Parylene Ready for Mass-Market Use

Szwarc used heat to slowly, carefully break down selected benzene-based polymers. While the painstaking work initially required to produce parylene was deemed too inefficient for production, a more accessible technique was discovered a couple of decades later.

Scientists at Union Carbide not only made important progress on that front, they did so without requiring the use of a solvent. That made parylene one of the first truly “green” conformal coatings, a trait that would become increasingly important with every passing year.

Union Carbide kept its fruitful parylene research program running well into the 1970s, focusing on commercial applications thereafter. That change of direction included the purchase of a far smaller innovator in the field, an acquisition that was used as the foundation for the parent company’s own parylene coating subsidiary.

Parylene Coatings Become the Default in a Number of Industries

While parylene’s admirable properties were recognized from the moment of its discovery, it took some time for those features to be leveraged at any scale in the realm of industrial production. By the 1980s, however, parylene had started to make impressive inroads into a number of industries whose participants had long clamored for superior alternatives to the coatings they were using.

Today, parylene is found on many implantable medical devices, an application where virtually all of its distinctive qualities shine. In addition to standing up well to the biological and chemical stresses imposed by the human body, parylene coatings boast uniformity and impermeability levels that make life easier for medical device designers.

Parylene coatings are also regularly applied to products of many other kinds, from mission-critical electronics to friction-sensitive parts found in mechanical systems. Where high-quality parylene coating services were once difficult to come by, they have become a lot more common in recent years.

Parylene’s history and many successes suggest that the substance will be sought after and widely used for a long time to come. While materials researchers search for successors, parylene performs so well in so many respects that it seems unlikely to be dethroned anytime soon. What was once an intriguing but scarce curiosity has since become a widely available coating that companies in many industries depend upon with great confidence.

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