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Is There an Incipient Rebellion Against Lead-Free Solder?
Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | Harvey Miller, IConnect007

Harvey Miller.jpgBelow are two recent posts on TechNet, the user forum for manufacturing and design engineers sponsored by the IPC - Association Connecting Electronics Industries. They were posted by the President of an electronic test equipment company in New Hampshire. There have been many posts, many threads, about the numerous process and reliability problems caused by the RoHS ban on lead in solder. The two below are the most eloquent.

The first post cites 15 counts against lead-free solder, some actual documented failures, some links to further documentation. Then, the poster demands that the EU revoke the lead ban before it causes a catastrophe more serious than a pacemaker or satellite failure. I wish. 

But it won't work, for three reasons. The lesser reason is all the red faces, on all those electronic industry figures who betrayed the industry's interests for their own opportunistic reasons. They, not politicians or environmentalists, made RoHS happen by colluding with the "enemy." But, at this point in time, we don't need recriminations. We need to march together to a better future.

The second reason is all the effort to reverse production processes, materials, supply chains. The disruption in the midst of a depression would not be tolerated.

The third and decisive reason why it's not in the cards for the RoHS lead in solder ban to be reversed is the tsunami of litigation an admission of lead-free culpability would invoke. We don't need that either, unless one is a lawyer.

Let's outfox the solder and tin industries!

I hope you are sitting down, since I am going to tell you how to get rid of solder. The PCBs of today combine two functions: They support the components and they provide the interconnection traces. Suppose we separate those functions into two platforms. One would just hold the picked and placed components with leads accessible from the top. The other platform would provide the dense traces--no components in the way. The third dimension would join component leads to traces-laser drilled microvias, copper-plated, all very reliable, proven processes. It could be a parallel manufacturing configuration, drastically cutting cycle time. The original concept is explained at www.verdantelectronics.com by Joseph Fjelstad.


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