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Lead-free Manufacturing
Lead-free Manufacturing: not only just and manufacture

Major Lee, editor in chief
"International Electronics Supply & Manufacturing"

With regard to lead-free manufacturing has long been not a new topic in recent years and as long as the electronics manufacturing exhibition, technical seminars or media in a variety of industries, will be with lead-free content related to the focus as an introduction. If we say that the previous two years more to carry out propaganda and popularization of environmental regulations, the most recent period we are concerned about the point where you see the trade to the specific operation and the implementation level, according to application requirements such as how to choose lead-free soldering materials, how to adjust the production line technology, etc.. In the materials and equipment suppliers, under the publicity, some firms engaged in assembly manufacturing seem to believe that as long as the upstream suppliers are lead-free components at the same time choose the right welding materials and set up the machine operating parameters can be everything is all right, the successful completion of the conversion to lead-free manufacturing. But the fact is not so simple, manufacturing is only to ensure the final product to meet the requirements of a step, in fact the manufacturer must also be from the start with every aspect of product life cycle to enhance the entire supply chain management, in order to fundamentally solve the environmental regulations with a years of trouble, and avoid the passive position in the market.

We could begin to understand the lead-free manufacturing will give the industry what kind of impact. In the electronics manufacturing in the original intention of restricting the use of lead products in order to reduce the pollution of the environment, but unfortunately the proponents did not give more consideration to the interests of manufacturers, the result is to give manufacturers a double whammy. The first is the direct product costs. To achieve the same functions as components or materials, lead-free models than the general high cost of lead-models, and process changes have led to increased operating costs (such as the welding temperature rise takes more power, and in some occasions, but also nitrogen soldering environment, etc.), while a more narrow process window for other components also made higher demands. Second, the implementation of lead-free to the quality of the product itself has also increased a number of uncertainties. Lead-free alloys of different composition of the reliability problem has been the subject of industry experts is still under study, application conditions change can continue to use the original product, now it will be able to ensure that manufacturers have to pay more efforts to understand the different environments products that may exist under the potential pitfalls.

Because of this, even though everyone knows the importance of environmental protection, electronics manufacturers convert to lead-free manufacturing process in fact was not active in mind. The United States had two 90s of the last century trying to pass bills on the lead in electronic products to restrict the application, but they were the manufacturer's strong opposition, it is still no major federal legislative action to control or limit of lead in electronic products content. Environmental protection is necessary, however, the future direction of development in the EU RoHS directive strong driven by a number of countries and regions have already formulated the relevant laws and regulations and the implementation timetable, including the Chinese government earlier this year released "Electronic Information Products Pollution Control Management Measures ", I believe that other regions to follow up the implementation is only a matter of time. Electronics manufacturers have obviously do not have much choice can do is to face various difficulties, deal with them.

Mentioned earlier, the problems posed by lead-free manufacturing is not a single department will be able to solve, requiring companies to stand a higher degree of decision-makers to look at these factors and their interactions. For example, early in the product planning, if the new product are lead-free, then what should be considered to take the cost of strategy, whether its reliability to meet the target application environment. In the product development stage, designers and material purchasing departments need to collaborate in order to understand all the requirements in line with lead-free components, including the existence of mechanical components of the supply of housing problems, and whether they can adapt to the new process.

To the production stage, in addition to the process itself should ensure that the quality of the final product, the good and efficient production site management, material management, warehouse management is equally important, especially when the manufacturer at the same time mixing leaded and lead-free products, when the production is more is so, there have been manufacturers since the last repair welding in the assembly phase of the wrong solder wire causing the entire batch of product testing has been rejected substandard. Finally, even if the product works out of the hands of sales to end-users, things are still not finished, because the enterprises are still responsible for the after-sales service responsibility. The implementation of lead-free manufacturing is only a matter of recent years, whether the products because of technology immaturity caused by prolonged maintenance of the rate of increase after use, as well as future maintenance of the necessary components and lead-free materials, and management of reserves and so on also need to create operators in early on a rainy day, as early arrangements.

The full implementation of lead-free can be described as a "systems engineering." In addition to technical safeguards beyond its enterprise supply chain management of a new challenge, electronics manufacturers need to have a complete management system covering from product planning to design to production and service at all stages, otherwise such a problem before overwhelmed by thinking of ways must be constantly on the run. In short, manufacturers are converting to lead-free out of the process necessary to manufacture the frame, because lead-free manufacturing is more than just a matter of production in the manufacturing sector.
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