PCB | December 12, 2008
"The RoHS directive should be reconsidered!"
PCB consultant Lars Blomberg believes that the current RoHS directive should be reconsidered. For over 50 years, the PCB’s has been used as carrier and wiring for electronic components. The modest development of PCBs in relation to components and software is remarkable.
PCBs have evolved from single-sided to double-sided hole plated to multi-layer to blind and hidden vias, and sequential structured boards, but the materials have mainly remained the same, i.e. copper as conductor, tin/lead as solder joints and Fr4 as substrates. If we look more closely at the various materials, it can be seen that copper has excellent electrical as well as thermal properties – it is elastic and has good solderability. The copper is also highly suitable for chemical and electrolytic plating, which makes the metal virtually irreplaceable. In the case of tin/lead solder joint, it is the same thing. Eutectic SnPb (63/37) has been proven to be the perfect solder joint, because of its elasticity, low soldering temperature and good aging properties. In the case of FR4 (Flame Retaradant 4) as the carrier material, it has always worked very well together with copper and the soldering parameters for tin/lead. Another advantage is that all manufacturers have produced a similar material, which made it easy to use from multiple suppliers – without having to change the basic data. What I wish to say is that you skould never change a winning team, but that is exactly what happened when the use of lead for PCB manufacturing had been banned. The reason that lead is considered to be harmful to the environment – when it is deposited in the nature and leaks out, it builds up in plants and microorganisms and eventually also affects animals and humans alike. So it is perfectly understandable to ban lead in gasoline, but it is very surprising that it was not possible to prohibit lead in ammunition (lead shot), which is more or less made to be ‘deposited’ in nature. But why is electronic waste predicted to end up in nature and not to be recycled? It is not difficult to understand how politicians have come to the conclusion of a ban. If you are sitting in Brussels and will take a position on environmental issues and begin to look at something called the Printed Circuit Board - shortened to PCB. You will start by ‘googling’ on PCB and that can intimidate anyone. Americans have been a little smarter and shortened Printed Circuit Board to PWB (Printed Wiring Board). After the first shock, you will find that the printed circuit boards contain copper, tin, lead and glasfiberepoxi with brominated flame retardants, which are not likely to calm down decision-makers. If we start with copper, this metal has been banned in antifouling paint for boats and is demonstrably very toxic. Try to hammer a copper nail into a tree and it will die; you can treat your lawn with copper sulfate – the soil will be shimmering green, but the grass will be gone. You could then through away your lawn mower, which of course could be seen as an environmental benefit? This applies to both – tin and lead – they are highly toxic if they are released into nature. In the case of glassfiberepoxi, it is not very environmentalfriendly either; in the manufacturing process or later during waste treatment (burning), when it also contains bromine as flame retardant – this will certainly not make things better. However, it should be noted that the bromine compound, which has been used in Fr4 materials, is TPPBA (tetrabromo bisphenol-A) which has been proven not to be dangerous. Considering these facts the result – a printed circuit board should be prohibited. This however is politically impossible, so the choice is to ban lead and to allow a variety of exceptions, such as allowing a reduced amount of lead to be negligible. What is now achieved provides no benefits to the environment – if we do not assume that every single scrapped printed circuit board will be thrown into nature. However, it has seriously affected the electronics industry by rising the soldering temperatuer to a point were it is very close to were components and other materials are decomposing. This in turn will lead to more errors and faster aging and a greater consumption of energy in general. This raises immediately the question – why are the defence and automotive industries exempted from the ban. The answer must be that the risks are realized. Printed circuit board materials have also gotten to a stage where it is impossible to switch between suppliers, as materials have different properties. If we continue to solve the problem by banning all toxic material, our civilization will return to a Stone Age society. The more obvious solution would be Recycling. We must ensure that there will be no materials dumped into our environment, but all waste must be taken care of in an environmentally sound manner. For example, tin/lead should be easy to recycle, because of its low melting point. So I believe, the banning of lead for some electronics described in the RoHS directive should be reconsidered. Lars Blomberg is working as a consultant in Sweden. He comes with a background of 40 years of experience in the Swedish PCB industry.
Eaton buys new facility – merges busway operations from multiple sites Power management company Eaton has purchased a new facility in Hodges, South Carolina, establishing a new home for Eaton’s busway product line currently spanning three facilities across Greenwood County.
AIM adds new facility in Brazil AIM Solder has opened a new wholly-owned facility in Manaus, Brazil. This new stocking facility, which represents the only legitimate source of AIM products in Brazil, enables the company to support a growing Brazilian market.
PFOA now in REACh and POP regulation On 4 July, PFOA - perfluorooctanoic acid, its salts and precursor compounds - was included in the POP (Persistent Organic Pollutants) Regulation (EU) 2019/1021 and at the same time also came into force in the REACh Regulation (Annex XVII, entry 68).
Manz AG receives further Battery order Manz AG is expanding its successful partnership with an international battery manufacturers in the Energy Storage segment with a further major order in the mid double-digit million euro range.
Advantech and Interlatin to set up JV in Mexico Industrial IoT specialist, Advantech, says it is establishing a joint venture subsidiary in Mexico with its channel partner Interlatin.
Mercedes-Benz takes equity stake in Farasis Mercedes-Benz is taking another important step on its journey towards CO₂--neutral mobility. The Stuttgart-based car manufacturer has launched a strategic partnership with Chinese battery cell manufacturer Farasis Energy (Ganzhou) Co., Ltd., including taking an equity stake.
A new EMS provider sees the light of day EMS providers DataED and Bestronics merge to launch a new player – Emerald EMS.
Tektronix joins the fight agains COVID-19 Tektronix has shifted its focus from supporting vehicle manufacturing to assisting with ventilator production.
ABB completes divestment of Power Grids to Hitachi ABB has reached a significant milestone in the company’s transformation towards a decentralized global technology company, with the completion of the divestment of 80.1% of its Power Grids business to Hitachi.
Germany amps up domestic battery production with massive state subsidies The German government is investing more than EUR 1.5 billion in battery cell research and production.
Internal promotions and executive retirements at Kimball EMS provider, Kimball Electronics, has made two new internal promotions aimed at contributing to the company accelerating its strategic growth plans.
Kyocera & TMDU team up for research on vitals measurement headset Kyocera Corporation and Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have teamed up on a joint research project to develop a wireless headset that can remotely monitor high accuracy patient biometrics, such as blood oxygen saturation (SpO2).
German battery manufacturer receives funding for cell production facility VARTA AG receives public funding of EUR 300 million for battery cell production facility.
Scanfil to streamline its factory network The EMS provider is planning to combine the production of its Hamburg factory with its other factories in Germany and Poland
Kitron awarded new order within measurement technology Kitron has been awarded new business for measurement technology. The award covers a period of five years, and the expected annual value is between EUR 3.5-5 million.
NORBIT ASA awarded aquaculture contract Norwegian technology manufacturer, NORBIT, has been awarded a new contract from an existing customer within the aquaculture market.
Saki strengthens its Asian operations The AOI specialist is expanding its global sales organisation with new Asia sales department, and appointing Katsuhiro Eddie Ichiyama as Senior General Manager for the Asian region
Scanfil to sell its plant in Hangzhou, China The board of directors of the Finnish EMS prover has decided to sell the entire share capital of its subsidiary located in Hangzhou, China, for a total of EUR 18.4 million to Hangzhou Cabinet Technology Co., Ltd.
Staying put during the COVID-19 pandemic TPCA (Taiwan Printed Circuit Association) announced the production and sales data for Q1 2020; the output value of Taiwan cross-strait PCB industry totalled NT$136.9 billion (approx. US$4.541 billion) in Q1/2020.
North American PCB industry sales up 1.0% in May Total North American PCB shipments in May 2020 were up 1.0 percent compared to the same month last year. Compared to the preceding month, May shipments fell 3.0 percent.
Sensirion expands with new production site in Hungary In a response to positive business trends and the increasing demand for its existing and new sensors, Sensirion is expanding its production capabilities by establishing a production site in Debrecen, Hungary.
Management Change at the Würth Elektronik eiSos Group After 27 years in the Würth Elektronik Group, Oliver Konz has decided to resign his position as Executive Vice President of the Würth Group and CEO of the Würth Elektronik eiSos Group for personal reasons and leave the company.
Kurtz Ersa inaugurates new production hall In Bestenheid, Germany, the company has just opened its new production and administration building. Following 24 months of construction and furnishing, the company now have access to 4’500 new square metres of space.
PCB industry: 1Q/2020 overshadowed by corona pandemic After a significant drop in sales at the end of last year, PCB manufacturers in the Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH) region recorded a sales growth of 16.1 percent in the first quarter of 2020.Load more news
- A new EMS provider sees the light of day
- Germany amps up domestic battery production with massive state subsidies
- GaN and SiC power semiconductor markets set to pass $1 billion mark in 2021
- Global microelectronics market with overall stable development
- ABB completes divestment of Power Grids to Hitachi