To comply or not to comply that is the question still
troubling many a small electronics company. Although leadfree appears to
be working reasonably well for many mass produced disposable consumer
items, a big reliability question still remains.
Xbox 360's red ring of death is an expensive lesson for all.
Suspicions have arisen regarding the premature failure of the leadfree
solder joints on the BGA processor chip. It appears the the repeated
thermal cycling from normal usage is causing the solder joints to
fracture. Although highlighted as a design fault would as many have
failed if original tin lead solder were used.
Apart from heat any flexing of circuit boards has also been shown to
increase the risk of solder joints fracturing. A good example is a
laptop computer, increasingly so at the cheaper lightweight end where
the PCB can be used structurally. Over time the repeated stresses can
result in a Uri
Gellar fork type fracture of the solder joint.
Copper dissolution from the holes is another recent development.
Very much highlighted by leadfree HASL, which in a typical double pass
operation can strip 5 or more microns of copper. It's also been reported
that extended soldering times during assembly or rework has been known
to strip the copper from holes. Instead of the copper hole wall a
tenuous brittle lead free solder connection remains.
Until technological developments progress every indication is that
RoHS will continue to increase our industries damage to the environment.
Not to mention the increased consumption of precious metals, higher
energy demands, and increased pressure on landfill caused by the
premature failure of electronic goods. RoHS is still in it's infancy,
we're all participating in a real life experiment, how will the lead
reduction in landfill balance against the extra energy consumption +
extra landfill from failed goods, not to mention the risk to human life
should a safety critical electric circuit fail.
Poor Barney who spends many of his days in our office, has also
possibly been effected by the possible failings of the new leadfree
solder. His tail is best told by Made for Monkeys part of
A Dog's RF Tag Fails - Is RoHS the Culprit? | Electrical/Electronics,
Manufacturing, Unexplained Mysteries | Made By Monkeys