I pride myself on keeping pretty up to date on RoHS. Any journalist who has been in the electronics trade for a while has been writing about the EU's Restriction on Hazardous Substances for more than a decade.
However, as with many directives that become laws, some changes have been made to RoHS. The consulting firm Design Chain Associates recently presented two Webinars on the topic. Here are some highlights from today's presentation:
It's not over.
When RoHS became a law, it included a phase-in period for products that were not covered in the original directive. Those products, which are outlined in what's called the RoHS Recast, will be phased in through 2021.
You can fall "out of scope."
Thanks to many of the clarifications in the recast, products that were subject to RoHS under the directive may not have to comply under the law. Don't assume that, once you are compliant, you are always compliant.
There is no such thing as a RoHS logo.
Many of the icons that designate a lead-free product were designed by the companies manufacturing the product. RoHS compliance has to be demonstrated through documentation.
CE does not equal RoHS.
Products that carry the "CE" seal may be RoHS-complaint, but they are not one and the same. Conversely, a RoHS-compliant product may or may not have to carry the CE seal. Either way, RoHS and CE apply to the finished product and do not have to be attached to individual components.
Your EMS is not your ticket to compliance.
RoHS compliance is the responsibility of the brand owner, not the contract manufacturer. Though your EMS may follow all the RoHS rules, the buck stops with the OEM.
These particular items were a surprise to me. A lot more information was covered by DCA. I recommend logging on to the Design Chain Associates Website, where you can request copies of the presentations.
Mario, you make a good point about cost. Of course the cost increase of soldering would probably be passed on to the buyer, but it certainly is a consideration. My guess is that the higher temperature needed may reduce the production line yield a bit, although I have not read any comments about that aspect.
I do wonder about how much solder, by weight, really is in many of the small consumer electronic items. Has anybody researched that? The original lie that was used to start the discussion claimed that the weight of lead in each computer was several pounds. That is the result of doing the division on the weight of lead claimed to have been dumped by the number of computers dumped. I wonder now if they were adding in the weight of the leaded glass in the monitor CRTs. Does anyone have information about how the lead in leaded glass might escape? My observation of glass is that it does not seem to deteriorate when it is buried in the ground.
Hi William, in fact you listed three of the main concerns implementing lead free soldering, i'll like to add the extra cost for lead free soldering SAC alloy commonly use in the industry.
Back in 2006 the SMD process was not ready for lead free, currently i'll say it is more estable, specially in uBGAs
Yes, the reliability of lead free solders is acknoledged as being quite a bit lower. That is why they are not used in military equipment or in heart pacemakers. The reduced reliability is in several areas: first, the lead free solders are more brittle, thus more likely to fail due to cracking under repeated stress and strain; second is the greater tendancy of those using tin to develop conductive whiskers that lead to short circuits; and third is the relibility reduction caused by the need for the soldering to be done at higher temperatures.
None of these reasons are "new", they are well known and have been discussed in the publications such as EDN and Design News. I certainly did not discover them, others did.
Of course, when the only target is maximum product sales and profit, having a product fail leads to more sales, so the shorter product lifetimes have not bothered some manufacturers. On the opposite side, I would not knowingly sell a product with an intrinsic structural flaw that would reduce the value to my customers.
This is an interesting and worthwhile write-up. One thing that I do on those occasions when I look for a "consumer electronics" item, is to avoid those items that claim to be RoHS compliant, since it immediately identifies that the solder is inferior, and less reliable. We all know that this is true, although many will say that the higher temperatures and more brittle solder, combined with a greater tend toward whisker growth, really don't matter.
The products that we produce are not consumer items, and they are worth recycling, so our policy is to pay for the return of any of our products that our customers wish to discard. So far, the only items to be sent back to us have been sent for repairs or calibration recertification, not for disposal. So it seems that we have a decent product niche.
It would be a valuable service to the worlds ecology for some to acquire information on the actual reduction of the movement of the removed hazardous substances into the enviroment caused by this RoHS mandate. Understanding the actual benefits of any costly change is a very valuable insight for any business, which many sucsessful organizations work to achieve prior to making such changes. Of course, they often continue such a study after the changes are implemented, so as to verify the value of their action. It would be worthwhile for the various governing bodies to also know the actual value and benefits of their mandates. After all, many of us understand that there are unintended consequences of many actions.
Many testing labs have their own logo such as ETL CSA, not having a logo prevents any kind of restriction on what lab to use and avoids confusion for the end customer about what logo or what lab is better.
Besides RoHS do not enforce labeling, I think only RoHS China
In my experience, meeting RoHS requirements was not our. Biggest concern, but managing all the i formation and certificates merried to the SGS report, until today many suppliers do no know how to fill the MDF correctly.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.