Lead-free Forum

Lead-Free Products in Power Electronics.

 

Introduction

International laws and regulations related to the elimination of lead in electronic components and products require the industry to qualify and implement the use of lead-free solder in all products and processes. Organizations are required to provide lead-free products compliant to the European Union’s Law on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), and, Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). Compliance includes other international regulations restricting the use of lead in electronic components, mainly those applicable in Europe and Japan. In addition to compliance to the WEEE/RoHS law, many organizations and suppliers in the industry are supporting and participating in related customer "green-partner" initiatives. These regulations are impacting Europe and Japan initially; however, the requirements may rapidly migrate globally. Some industries such as the military – defense industries, aerospace and avionics industries and some automotive applications--are exempt or are not converting over as quickly as consumer products are. Many consumer electronics products are considered "disposable" and good recycling programs for electronics surplus are not in place at this time or recycling cannot be assured. Many of these devices such as cell phones, PCs, VCRs, TVs and others are routinely discarded, and the concern is toxic chemicals leach into the ground water table over time and contaminate the water supply. The regulations and reaction of the electronics industry are dynamic, and many organizations are attempting to meet the requirements and minimize the impact on their customers from a cost, quality and reliability standpoint. Additional concerns abound with regard to not impacting manufacturing operations significantly. Soldering profiles are different for lead-free materials and are higher than for lead-based solder (260 degrees C). For the lead free materials this will affect the moisture sensitivity levels (MSL) of the semiconductor devices requiring different temperature ramp rates and better zone control as well as more zones in the reflow ovens. Most all surface mount packages are being qualified to 260 °C, which is a higher temperature profile than the JEDEC standard J-STD-020B. The majority of the MSL ratings will remain unchanged from the current MSL 1 classification. If there is a change in the MSL rating of a package, the customer will need to be notified and the packaging and handling upgraded. The power electronics industry will be impacted dramatically and rapidly, we offer resources to provide insight and guidance.

The PSMA committee on board mounted power supplies (BMPS)--brick power supplies--are actively participating in various industries and regulating organizations to stay on top of the trends.

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