U.K.-based Lead-free Seminar Covers the Bases


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HIGH WYCOMBE, BUCKS, England — The SMART Group's 8th Annual Lead-free Seminar and Exhibition held in February was well-attended with 160 delegates, and included wide-ranging lead-free topics, a lively debate, and surprising results from a survey.

Steve Brown, global product manager – wave chemistry for Cookson Electronics, spoke on the solder patent issue, covering patent-protected lead-free alloys and the impact on the user. His paper, entitled "Complying with International Patent Obligations," covered intellectual property considerations, lead-free alloy patents, and the typical cost of the royalty payment.

Another materials presentation, titled "IPC-SPVC: Comparison of SAC Solder Compositions," by Steve Dowds, global product manager for Multicore solder products at Henkel, was presented on behalf of the IPC Solder Products Value Council (SPVC), who aims to reduce the confusion regarding alloy choice and achieve a worldwide consensus on the issue. This three-year, $1 million reliability test program looked at the impact of lead-free implementation on solder selection. The SAC alloy types tested were 96.5/3.0/0.5 Sn/Ag/Cu, 95.5/3.8/0.7 Sn/Ag/Cu, and 95.5/4.0/0.5 Sn/Ag/Cu, and the project involved Solectron and Flextronics. The SPVC 96.5/3.0/0.5 Sn/Ag/Cu recommendation became the commodity alloy for lead-free applications. The study also concludes that standard FR4 laminate can be used, and that voiding had no impact on reliability.

The day kicked off with "Routes to RoHS Compliance," with Neil Stanton of BSI Product Services, who summarized that companies should establish policy and processing, communicate with suppliers, find evidence and keep on file, only use suppliers that you have confidence in, test where appropriate, communicate with customers, review your process frequently, and keep up-to-date with new RoHS information.

"RoHS Readiness – Progress Report on Suppliers & Customers," by Alan Lund, product compliance manager at RS Components, outlined why RoHS is as much a logistical issue as a technical one, and concluded that component availability is key to achieving RoHs compliance. Nigel Burtt, production engineering manager at Dolby Laboratories Inc.'s European headquarters, explained what RoHS means to Dolby. The company set up a RoHS/WEEE project team early to implement the production changeover to RoHS-compliant products. In his presentation, Burtt humorously complained about the pain of part numbers and gave Dolby's solution.

Abigail Cottrell , Eco-design and Product Policy at the Department of Trade & Industry, gave the latest update on legislation in her presentation, titled "RoHS – 5 Months to Implementation." As well as updates on the materials not to be included from July 1st, the agreed exemptions, and those pending, Cottrell informed the audience that there is now an informal network of EU RoHS enforcement bodies to ensure a uniform EU approach.

Dr. Paul Cusack of Soldertec Global-Tin Technology concluded the day with a practical look at "Analytical Test Protocols for Ensuring Compliance with the EU RoHS Directive."

The questionnaire carried throughout the day shows that a high percentage of companies admit they will not be compliant by July 1st. Also, a high number of companies believe they are exempt from the Directive. The greatest challenges to being non-compliant by July 1st were listed as non-availability of lead-free components, compliance issues, cost of stock to support spares, reliability, moisture-sensitive devices, and rework and repair.

For more information on the seminar, please contact Mike Judd, SMART Group's PR director, by e-mailing him at mjudd@mjm-marketing.com.

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