July 1st, Here we come!

Well July 1st will be here on Saturday. Is everyone RoHS compliant? Probably not. As a materials supplier we are often asked to assist our customer’s with the Pb-free transition. Most of the large OEMs and CMs have made the switch (or have Pb-free lines and material sets ready to be used). There are still a surprisingly large number of small to medium sized manufacturers that are still under the impression that the EU RoHS legislation does not apply to them. After asking a few questions you find out that in several of these locations they are building a sub assembly that goes into another product where they have materials heading into the EU. Now they are in a mad scramble to be compliant. Luckily the electronics industry has quite a bit of information published over the last few years that can assist these companies (for example: SMTA Knowledge Base, IPC Pb-free web site, material suppliers, and iNEMI).

One of the most common excuses that customers use are related to the movement to tin (Sn) plating. Namely, tin-whiskers.

A great resource for tin-whisker information is the NASA website. iNEMI has been doing a lot of work on trying to understand the mechanism and how to test for whiskering. That work has evolved into a standards and test methods that can be used to help understand and test for whiskering (Environmental Acceptance Requirements for Tin Whisker Susceptibility of Tin and Tin Alloy Surface Finishes [JESD201], Current Tin Whiskers Theory and Mitigation Practices Guideline [JESD22A121.01] , and Current Tin Whiskers Theory and
Mitigation Practices Guideline [JP002] ).

Certainly, tin-whiskers are of great concern for high-reliability products (such as military, and aerospace). For many commercial level products this does not need to be as much of a concern. Of course using these new standards and guidelines can help both customers and manufactures truly understand the risks involved rather than making snap judgments.

Good luck to you all!!

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About Brian

Brian J. Toleno, Ph.D. is the Application Engineering Team Leader with Henkel in Irvine, California. He holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Penn State University and a B.S. in chemistry from Ursinus College. Prior to joining Henkel, Toleno managed the failure analysis laboratory at the Electronics Manufacturing Productivity Facility (EMPF). He is an active member of SMTA, served as the Program Chair for the 2005 IEMT and is active within the IPC, serving as the underfill handbook committee (J-STD-030) chairperson and co-chair of the Solder Paste Standards Committee (J-STD-005). Toleno has written a course on failure analysis for SMTA, has authored numerous publications for trade journals and peer reviewed publications, and written two chapters for electronic engineering handbooks on adhesives and materials.