Industry News Archives

Latex Gloves – Are You Allergic?


Many industrial manufacturing environments require workers to wear protective gloves, including during electronics and medical device production and assembly. Latex gloves not only protect workers from harmful chemicals but also protect products from worker contact and contamination during manufacturing Read more

ST 925 SMT Rework System–Three favorites combined into one nice savings


Save a few steps--and some money--with the Pace 925 SMT Rework System Pace has introduced a new low-cost “combination” system ideal for surface mount technology (SMT) rework. It’s worth adding up the savings by comparing the a la carte prices Read more

Metcal’s CV-5200 Connection Validation Soldering Station Changes Everything


You may or may not have heard about Metcal’s new soldering station, the CV-5200. The evolutionary tool removes much of the reliance on visual inspection of hand-soldered joints and adds a second, more technology-driven method for validating a successful Read more

Is Halogen-Free Part of the Future?

Posted on by Andy in Industry News Leave a comment

Lead Free RoHS Compliant Symbol It’s been almost two years since the birth of RoHS and now some people are pushing to add more hazardous substances to the list of restricted materials, and halogen is one of those substances but it doesn’t come without any great debate.

Some say that just like the hazardous materials listed under RoHS, halogen-free electronics should also be part of the environmental trend to go green. But others disagree and say that halogen in electronics doesn’t affect our environment either way.

According to Tim Jensen in his Halogen-Free blog, the industry seems to have defined halogen-free as being less than 900ppm of bromine (Br) and 900ppm of Chlorine (Cl).

Right now there aren’t any laws that require electronics companies to manufacture halogen-free products, but many companies including large corporations such as Intel are slowly going in the direction of halogen-free.

The other source of confusion for this topic is the difference between halogen-free and halide-free. I’m obviously not qualified to describe the detailed difference between the two but if you love chemistry and are interested in knowing the details, read Jensen’s blog article about the differences between Halogen-Free and Halide-Free. But here’s the cliff notes version of the differences. A halogen means fluorine, chloride, bromide, iodine or astatine is present. On the other hand, a halide is a compound that contains a halogen.

You’re probably wondering where halogen is used in the electronics industry. Well, as it turns out, halogen can be found in many flame retardants such as brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride which is more commonly known as PVC. Halogen-free advocates believe these flame retardants (that contain halogens) are bad for both our health and the environment once the electronics have been thrown away, recycled, etc…

I’m sure this is just the beginning of the halogen-free debate as well as the question of other substances that could be considered hazardous. Here’s some more information if you’re interested.

· IPC has an informative site on halogen-free and brominated flame retardants

· Here’s an general article on Eco-Friendliness from GreenerComputing

· Apple’s environmental policies

· Intel’s lead-free and halogen-free policies

· Dell’s stance on brominated flame retardants


RoHS Compliance Costs a Pretty Penny

Posted on by Andy in Industry News Leave a comment

Lead-Free Area Sign RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) has been around for almost two years now. If you are not aware, RoHS is the ban on six substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ether) in electronics equipment in the European Union.

According to an article on Purchasing.com, RoHS has cost the electronics industry over $32 billion, and that’s just getting started. It’s estimated to cost around $3 billion just to maintain compliance with RoHS.

Here are some things to keep in mind with RoHS:

  • The cost of RoHS will continue to increase. With the possibility of adding more substances and getting rid of exemptions, compliance will just become more costly.
  • About 29% of companies say they lost sales because of RoHS.
  • On the more positive side of things, RoHS helped many companies reorganize by improving their supply chain process and reevaluating their product lines; some companies have even reported increased market share.
  • Many electronics companies are reporting more inventory than usual. This is probably because many companies had to carry both RoHS compliant and non-RoHS compliant goods and now they are stuck with the non-RoHS compliant items.

The article on the cost of RoHS is pretty interesting, regardless of your involvement with RoHS.


Dr. Lasky Talks About The Latest Issues With Solder Products

Posted on by Andy in Industry News Leave a comment

About a month and a half ago we had an interesting guest blog post about RoHS2 written by solder expert Dr. Ronald Lasky. Dr. Lasky is very knowledgeable when it comes to RoHS, RoHS and WEEE (among other things), so it’s always a pleasure to hear what he has to say.

I found a video interview with Dr. Lasky on Rick Short’s blog. The interview is a little long (over 8 minutes) but it’s definitely worth watching because of  Dr. Lasky’s insight into the future of electronic assembly materials including the hot topic of halogen-free.

The video is easy to watch and listen to. Both Dr. Lasky and the interviewer are very conversational.

The link to the interview:

http://realtimewith.com/pages/show.cgi?rtwsid=10&st=10&c=11&v=366


Recycle Your E-Waste on Earth Day

Posted on by Andy in Industry News Leave a comment

Earth Day! Today is Earth Day. If there’s one day a year you should think about the environment and recycling then today is the day.

Earth Day and everyday should be about Reduce, Reuse and Recycle; this thought can even be applied to electronics.

Our landfills continue to fill up with thrown away electronics such as TVs, cell phones, and computers that have the potential to contain hazardous substances. Overtime these substances could leach into the soil and ultimately, our groundwater.

So instead of throwing your old electronic gadgets away this Earth Day, think about handing them down to a friend or donating the electronics to a local organization like Goodwill.

Also, many manufacturers and retailers are now providing customers with ways to properly dispose of e-waste. For example, Circuit City has an easy trade in program; Apple’s free recycling program allows you to take any iPod or cell phone to an Apple store for free recycling. Some programs will offer free recycling for their brand and some accept other brands for a small fee.

A little extra effort today might not pay off tomorrow but it will sometime in the future.


The Coming of RoHS 2

Posted on by Andy in Industry News Leave a comment

This is a guest post by Dr. Ronald Lasky, Senior Technologist at Indium Corporation, a company that supplies materials for electronics assembly, including solder pastes, solder preforms, fluxes, Pb-Free solder alloys and more.

The fact that the world is being inundated with electronic waste is hard to escape. Each year more than 1 billion mobile phones and 250 million PCs are sold, hence about that many are scraped. This inundation is why RoHS was developed, to make recycling easier and safer. In this way, RoHS supports the goals of its sister law WEEE. This point tends to be forgotten. Recently, someone wrote a letter to the editor of one of the larger trade journals saying, “I don’t feel any safer because of RoHS.” He shouldn’t, but the man in the photo (to the left) will be. This photo was from a January 2008 National Geographic article about e-waste. The article pointed out that much of our e-waste ends up in poor countries where it is recycled to reclaim some of the materials. Since this man [in the photo] is likely recycling electronics that were made pre-RoHS, odds are that he will eat from the same pan that the tin-lead solder was in.

Other popular media, including PC magazine, US News and World Report, and Time have all reported on this theme that our e-waste is poisoning 3rd world men, women and children while they “recycle” it. Although I’m sure that the EU planned that most recycled electronics would be performed in factories with disciplined processes, 3rd world recycling is here to stay. Hopefully with RoHS compliant products it will be safer for those seeking out a living doing so.

What about RoHS 2? I’m an optimist. I don’t think RoHS 2 will be that bad. Why? Because of the way RoHS was handled. By now, most readers will be thinking, “This guy is nuts!”

Hear me out. Around 2002, we were all saying that RoHS was a disaster, that the EU wouldn’t listen to our concerns, and that RoHS wasn’t needed because disposal of waste electronic equipment didn’t put any of the six hazardous substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and PBB, PBDE) into the environment. (We didn’t think about how RoHS’s main intent is to support recycling.) Reliability of lead-free assembly was also not demonstrated, we also argued. So we all expected that come 1 July 2006 disaster would strike…the electronics industry would come to a standstill.

Hmmm… it didn’t. There was no “headline making” effect on electronics shipments to the EU. Since 1 July 2006 about $500 billion of RoHS compliant electronics have been manufactured, with no “the sky is falling” type of reliability issues. The EU continued to be sensitive to the fact that only short term reliability has been demonstrated by allowing WEEE category 8 (medical devices) and 9 (measuring and control instrumentation) products to continue their RoHS exemption. The EU countries have also worked with companies that have had issues with RoHS compliance, the EU has been measured in their response, avoiding for the most part, making a spectacle of non-compliers.

So we all grumbled and complained, but going on two years later, RoHS appears to be working and the EU is still seeking stakeholder input to fine tune the laws. It cannot be said that they don’t listen, at least to some extent.

I have to admit though that the list of RoHS 2 materials (pdf) (all 46, yikes!) is extensive and has some materials that their elimination would seem to be show stoppers like gallium arsenide. However, if one looks at the list, each material has an input section for “Stakeholder Input.” Let’s hope they listen very very carefully!

Dr. Ronald Lasky is a licensed professional engineer and holds four degrees including a Ph.D. from Cornell University in Materials Science. In 2003, Dr. Lasky won the Surface Mount Technology Association’s Founder’s Award. Also, Dr. Lasky has developed several new concepts in SMT processing software relating to process optimization, line balancing, and cost estimating; he also holds several patent disclosures.