Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services


RoHS and lead-free: how the regulations impact you

4 October 2006 Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services

The European RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) regulation is forcing the electronics industry to transition to lead-free soldering. Electronic production and rework facilities are currently reviewing all aspects of their processes to ensure compliance and continued reliability of their products.

WEEE and RoHS

* WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is the European directive that is attempting to make the recovery and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment easier and less cost-prohibitive. The goal is to encourage designers and manufacturers to create products with recycling in mind, which will lower the amount of hazardous materials in landfills.

* RoHS is further legislation that supports the WEEE initiative by prohibiting use of the following materials from electronic devices: lead (Pb); polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs); hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)); mercury (Hg); cadmium (Cd); and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Effective 1 July, 2006, these above-mentioned substances are prohibited from use in electrical and electronic devices (except for exempted applications). Components, solder, and other materials that remain on these devices need to be free of these specific materials if the end products are intended to be sold within Europe.

Impact of lead-free soldering on board assembly

Lead solder is the most common material used for soldering electronic components in the manufacture of printed circuit boards (PCB). Since lead is prohibited by RoHS, the electronic industry has been forced to develop lead-free soldering alternatives. The requirement for lead-free soldering has created challenges in many aspects of PCB manufacture and rework including:

* SMT ovens must heat PCBs over 316°C compared to the 260°C for lead.

* Hand solder tips must be heated over 399°C versus 316°C for lead.

* PCBs must be heated for a longer period of time.

* Fluxes often need to be more active, increasing the caustic nature of residues.

More info

Techspray offers a range of products that withstand harsh, leadfree soldering conditions and enhance productivity. For more information on the RoHS regulation and the impact on PCB assembly, see http://leadfree.ipc.org or www.nedassoc.org or for a lead-free production process evaluation, see www.techspray.com/leadfree.htm



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