electronic rust protection

Electronic Rust Protection Maximized With VCI Capsules

Electronics power most every function in our modern lives. They track our time, illuminate our rooms, secure our properties, cook our meals, map our routes and keep us informed, moving and connected. Our reliance on electronic devices for these critical functions makes electronic rust protection all the more a top priority.

For all ways in which electronics empower us in communication, transportation, medicine and more, almost all share a common vulnerability: Corrosion.

What is Electronics Corrosion?

Electronics corrosion is a process of degradation or deterioration of electronic components and circuits triggered by certain environmental factors – usually water, moisture or close proximity to dissimilar metals.

As our electronic rust protection experts at Zerust can explain, consumer electronics from smartphones to fuse boxes are almost all contain metals and metal alloys like aluminum, copper, gold, silver, lead, tin, steel, etc. Depending on the type of metal and environment, they can be highly susceptible to various forms of corrosion.

Types of corrosion that can impact electronic devices include:

  • Atmospheric corrosion. This is the most common type of corrosion, and includes rust. It’s when materials are degraded by exposure to the air and the electrolytes within it – usually water or humidity. With electronics, we usually see moisture trapped in electrical contacts, causing electrolytic corrosion that causes the devices to fail.
  • Galvanic corrosion. Sometimes referred to as bimetallic corrosion, this is also an electrochemical process, but one in which the metal degrades due to contact with a dissimilar metal to which it is reactive. Aluminum and steel are good examples. Electronics almost always have connections between dissimilar metals, and this can make them prone to galvanic corrosion.
  • Fretting corrosion. This is a type of metal deterioration that results from micromotions of vibration or heating/cooling cycles that cause thermal expansion.

How Much of a Problem are Corroded Electronics?

Electronics corrosion is so common that you’ve probably been confronted with it and not even realized. As explained by the European Corrosion Congress (EUROCORR), your system or device suddenly stops working, but when you request service, the tech can’t find a clear reason why. “Corrosion-related failures are not easily detected,” the scientists explain. “In some cases, failures are intermittent or occur because of service life conditions (humidity and contamination) where water film formation on the printed circuit board (PCBA) leads to leakage currents, resulting in the wrong output signal of the electronics device.”

Electronics manufacturers have begun using infrared cameras that can identify “cold spots” on PCBAs that are prone to moisture build-up, condensation and corrosion.

Collectively, corroded and rusting electrical equipment costs some $5 billion just in the U.S. for replacement, downtime, increased safety hazards and repairs, according to an analysis published in The Open Corrosion Journal. (It’s probably higher, as that analysis was published in 2009, and consumer electronics have only become even more ubiquitous since then.)

Electronic Rust Protection With Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor Capsules

Rust prevention vapor capsules, also known as VCIs (volatile corrosion inhibitors), are innovative products that are designed to protect the metal elements of electronics from the formation of rust and other types of corrosion. They release a controlled vapor that forms a protective layer on the surface of the metals, in turn blocking the oxidation process that leads to metal deterioration.

Zerust has six different sizes of vapor capsules (depending on the space in which your electronics are boxed or stored) which offer anywhere from one to two full years of electronic rust protection. They can be purchased as single items or in bulk (great if you have several spaces you want to protect).

VCI capsules can be used for more than just electronics. They’re successfully used in storage to prevent rust on firearms, sporting goods, tools and more.

If you have questions about the correct size and application for your electronics, our dedicated rust prevention experts can offer tailored insight.

Contact Zerust for information on VCI products to help with rust prevention of a range of consumer products by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

Corrosion in electronics: Overview of failures and countermeasures, Proceedings of EuroCorr 2014

More Blog Entries:

How to Prevent Metal From Rusting With Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors, Jan. 18, 2023, Electronic Rust Protection Blog