Electronic products generally have planned obsolescence and contribute to millions of tons of E-Waste. According to The World Counts only 12 % is recycled and the rest ends up in landfill or is burned. Most E-waste contains lead, which is harmful to humans, animals, and the environment. There is a worldwide push to change over to Pb-free solder in electronic manufacturing.
Environmental and public safety concerns about the toxicity of lead found in solder paste propelled the European Union׳s (EU) Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) to eliminate lead-based solder in electronic production. The Australian and New Zealand governments have not legislated to remove lead from solder paste. Manufacturers can use solder paste with or without Pb.
Industry-developed Pb-free alternatives include alloys containing tin, silver, and copper. However, there are no perfect match solutions. For instance, defence/space industries are reluctant to use Pb-free solder because of long-term concerns with “Tin Whisker” issues which can short out conductors. Pb-free solders also tend to have a higher melting point than Pb-based alloys and therefore are harder to work with. They are also more expensive due to the higher cost of metals.
In Australia and New Zealand, CEMs are usually guided by the end-user on which solder paste is used on their PCBs. Some manufacturers use both and keep the processes separate to avoid mix-ups. Some engineers specify that they want to use a certain Pb-free paste type i.e. INDIUM 8.9HF. As consumer demand for environmentally friendly products gains momentum, more manufacturers will switch to Pb-free alternatives because using Pb-based solders will be hard to justify.
There are many Pb-free solder pastes on the market. It’s important for product developers and manufacturers to choose the right Pb-free solder paste to ensure products are reliable with fewer end-of-line defects. For more information, download the white paper from experts at Indium on how to choose the right Pb-free solder paste.
Contact our team if you have any questions about the best solder paste for your application.