Spotlight on Pb-free alternatives

11 July 2008

The iNEMI has outlined recommendations to help the electronics industry manage Pb-free alloy alternatives.

Recommendations from iNEMI (the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative) support the guidelines developed by the EMS Forum to address the same issues.

Although SAC 305/405 have been the most commonly used Pb-free alloys, it is claimed that they do not meet all of the industry’s needs for all applications, and new alloy solutions continue to be introduced.

Indeed, iNEMI recommends that in order to manage the use of multiple solder alloys, manufacturers should drive the convergence of Pb-free alloys, develop an industry-standard assessment methodology, establish performance guidelines, update standards, and also identify and differentiate alloys.

“The industry’s experience with Pb-free processing is still in its infancy and there is much to be learned,” said Jim McElroy, CEO of iNEMI. “It is inevitable that industry will continue to innovate and will develop new solder formulations and fluxes as our experience with Pb-free grows. However, the use of multiple alloys poses several challenges in the manufacturing process and industry needs some way to manage these challenges and limit their impact,” adds McElroy.

iNEMI members supporting these recommendations include Agilent Technologies, Celestica, Cisco, Delphi Electronics and Safety, Flextronics International, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Jabil Circuit, Motorola, Plexus, Sanmina-SCI, Sun Microsystems, and Texas Instruments.

Dr. Dongkai Shangguan, Vice President of Technology for Flextronics, Chair of the iNEMI Board Assembly, and Co-ordinator of the EMS Forum said: “Managing the lead-free solder alloy alternatives is a complex yet critical issue to the industry. It is imperative for the global industry to take a methodical and holistic approach, balancing the need for innovation and considerations for cost, performance, processes and logistics, as well as standardisation.”

Martin Rausch, General Manager, SMTD, Intel added: “Optimising the reliability of SAC solder joints without creating a multitude of component-centric solutions is important to Intel. We are looking to iNEMI’s Pb-Free Alloy Alternatives Project to address this topic because this issue can more effectively be addressed by the industry as a whole rather than on a company-by-company basis.”

Peter Tomaiuolo, Director of Corporate Technology at Celestica stated: “While there are generally very good reasons to move to alternate lead-free alloys, both at the component level and in printed circuit assembly, the potential impact on manufacturing processes can be quite severe. It is critical that customers, manufacturers and suppliers have an open dialogue in order to fully understand these impacts, so that the quality and reliability of the end product is not compromised.”

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