RoHS: 10 Years After

Every so often, I get to work on a project that I find utterly rewarding.

The RoHS article in this month’s issue of PCD&F/Circuits Assembly was one such project.

Titled “Was RoHS Worth It?“, it attempts to recap the chaos and angst that preceded the ban of lead in Europe (and the de facto phase outs elsewhere). It a real eye-opener how even the most hardened anti-RoHS researchers came around to seeing value from the experience. There was broad agreement, even among those who felt the fears over lead were overblown, that much was learned from the process, not the least of which is that no matter how much we have invested in one technology, there are likely others that are better.

As Dr. Iver Anderson told me, “You could say RoHS banning electronics really is a glimpse of the future. Because it won’t be the last time.”

To me, that quote distills in two sentences what I hope to achieve from embarking on this retrospective: a record that the researchers and engineers of the future can use as a benchmark for future broad-based transitions.

I am grateful to Karl Seelig, Jim McElroy, Paul Vianco, Dr. Carol Handwerker, Tetsuro Nishimura, Kay Nimmo, Iver Anderson, Dave Hillman and Dr. Richard Coyle for their invaluable help.

Happy reading!


In Their Element

One of the truly fun diversions of the electronics manufacturing community has been the ongoing Friday Element Quiz on the IPC TechNet email listserv.

For nearly two years, a few clues have been posited to the TechNet members each week, who then try to guess the corresponding element. (No element was repeated.)

The quiz was the brainchild of Dave Hillman, an engineer at Rockwell Collins and one of the longtime contributors to the listserv. Each week, Hillman (with the help of a few reference manuals), poses a question to the group. For example:

This element has no biological role for humans. History shows that the mineral containing this element was encountered in silver mines in the Bohemia (Czech Republic) in the Middle Ages and was give a name that is the combination of the words “ill luck” and deceiver” because it was found to have no use. This element plays a significant role in industry today in several different industry segments and is more abundant that tin in the Earth’s crust. What element is being described?*

For those not keeping track, the first winner was Lamar Young of SCS Coatings; the most recent was Hillman’s colleague Doug Pauls. Over the 96 weeks the quiz has run, there have been several repeat winners. The leaders to date are Dr. Bev Christian of RIM, who has picked the correct answer eight times, nosing out Leland Woodall of CSTech, who has correctly named seven elements.

Given there are 112 elements, the FEQ should be winding down. By popular demand, however, Hillman has stocked up on new reference books and pledges to start over.

Let the good times roll.

*The element is Uranium (U).