Q. Which is the most extensively used hazardous sub-stance?
A. In electronics industry, lead is extensively used in the form of leaded solders. In switching over from leaded solder to lead-free solder, manufacturers face a unique problem called ‘tin whiskering.’ The tin-base or silver-base solder used in place of leaded solder causes a whisker growth or needle-type growth. This needle growth leads to some premature failures.
We help manufacturers who have switched to lead-free solder technology, by providing them solutions to reliability and performance issues with the help of various simulation chambers and scanning electron microscope. Of course, it is not part of the project but we fully build the in-house capacity and expertise to handle the switch-over. This includes testing their components and products for reliability under different climatic conditions, safety level test, material level test and ensuring that the product will perform as good as it was performing with leaded solder.
Q. How do you convince companies to move from leaded solder to lead-free solder technology?
A. When moving from leaded solders to lead-free solders, there is a 20ºC rise in melting point. So the complete soldering operation will occur at a temperature 20ºC higher than the normal operating point. Secondly, other parts need not be changed. Only the compatible surface will be exposed to 20ºC higher temperature.
In addition to that, in certain extreme environments these lead-free solders have a tendency to form tin whisker. When tin whisker grows, it leads to some sort of short-circuit on the boards. So if a safety-critical device like automotive electronic component or medical electronics device is designed using a lead-free solder, this unwanted growth could lead to malfunctioning due to short-circuiting and a lot of premature failures.
So it is very important to tackle these things during the design itself. That’s where TÜV Rheinland plays a vital role to help these companies switch over from leaded technology to lead-free technology.