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I have an electronic device that uses black potting materiel similar the one below to I believe to protect the electronic components from elements.

enter image description here

I would like to safely remove this material. This material might be some type of epoxy. There are plenty of suggestions how to remove potting material (removing potting electronics). Some indicate that the chemicals in the potting might be harmful.

How can I safely remove the potting material? Through observation can I safely narrow down the potting material?

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    $\begingroup$ If there are plenty of suggestions, what are those suggestions? Have you tried any of them? If so, what didn't you like about them; and if not, why haven't you tried them? $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Dec 28, 2016 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ Unless it was intended to be removeable for repairs, you are basically screwed. Sometimes, a board is sealed with a varnish, then poured with a soft rubber that will release from the varnish. It's like pulling tough Jello out of a bowl. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    Feb 20 at 21:55

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It's not easy to identify which kind of potting material it is. However, you can try the following common ways of de-potting, ordered from easiest to hardest:

  1. Heating it up. Some compounds separate from the substrate when you just heat it to about 150 Celsius. Soaking it in water between heating sessions can help the separation.
  2. Hit it with a hammer. If the coating is only on one side of the PCB like in the image, a heavy blow can cause it to separate.
  3. Acetone bath. Leave it for an hour, scrape off any goo, repeat until all plastic is gone. Basic precautions like protective gloves and goggles are necessary.
  4. Heated nitric acid bath. This will need about 70% nitric acid and fume removal. I wouldn't attempt this without a proper lab setup.

Obviously all of these have significant risk of damaging the electronics.

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Cold Crack IPA and crushed dry ice makes a low low cold slush. Apply the super cold slush to circuit board potting compound and chip it away. Caution Use heavy gloves this slush is super cold and can freeze off skin or fingers. Cryo-fluid from dry ice and rubbing alcohol that goes down to -110

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