EMI announces validation of lead-free SMT processes
May 17, 2005
Express Manufacturing Inc. (EMI) announced that its surface mount technology (SMT) assembly processes were evaluated and its processes proven to meet all IPC 610 rev. D section 5 requirements for lead-free workmanship standards by CE Analytics, an independent analytical lab of Cookson Electronics.
"This is great news that we can share with our OEM customers," said CP Chin, president of EMI. "We launched a lead-free task force in the first quarter of 2002, and have been fully implementing these processes since the third quarter of 2003. We are now delighted to disclose that our SMT processes have been independently validated as lead-free."
The concern over lead toxicity has guided the way to more environmentally sound alternatives in automobile fuel, paints and other products. By July 2006, the European Union will require all tin-lead solder to be replaced by a lead-free alternative in all products sold or distributed in the EU and EC markets, except for some products in the automotive, aerospace and defense industries.
From a manufacturing standpoint, lead-free conversion is a highly complex process that impacts all areas of electronics assembly. For example, lead-free solder alloys have higher melting temperatures. Components and boards have to be able to sustain the higher processing temperatures without damage or impact to reliability.
At EMI, the process of converting to lead-free assembly has required adjustments from beginning to end of the manufacturing process. Adjustments had to be incorporated into the workflow, from selecting and understanding a new alloy to fine tuning the reflow profiles and calibrating ovens to manage the higher temperatures. Retraining assembly personnel and segregating the materials and work product were essential steps made by the company to ensure no cross contamination occurs between leaded and lead-free assemblies.
EMI has been at the forefront in developing lead-free manufacturing techniques to help customers comply with the environmental regulations banning lead solder in electronics products. Board and component finishes are only allowed a maximum of 0.1% lead content under the European guidelines. EMI has revisited this issue, and has worked to ensure the finishes are compatible with lead-free manufacturing processes.
"We are investing in the future of EMI's OEM customers who must comply with green initiatives in Europe," said Chin. "We are collaborating with our customers, and offering solutions to help them move towards lead-free manufacturing."