XRF is generally agreed to be the best solution for inspecting incoming articles for RoHS-banned substances. So why has the industry been generally slow on the uptake? Most XRF vendors I speak with indicate sales are slower than they had initially expected.
I find this all a bit shocking. Component counterfeiting or mismarkings are an industry-wide problem. At Apex last year, a major aerospace supplier reportedly claimed as much as 30% of its incoming components were the wrong type (for example, leads were all tin instead of SnPb). Another major defense company saw its EMS supplier rework hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of boards after finding a lot of SnPb BGAs were actually Pb-free.
While the upfront cost of the systems — $40,000 to $50,000 — is about as much as a cheap (OK, really cheap) reflow oven, the back-end payoff comes quickly, in my book.
In speaking with XRF vendors that have been through this cycle in other industries, such as paint, it would appear there’s at least a three-year lag before manufacturers starting anteing up for the inspection devices. Given that the EU RoHS went into effect July 1, 2006, that would mean we are still in the learning phase.
What are your thoughts?