The electronics industry trade press has covered the problem of tin whiskers for years. These stories have detailed the failures of electronic products – from nuclear plants to communications satellites – due to whiskers that grow on pure tin solder. Now the problem has gone mainstream. The month The Washington Post ran an Associated Press story by Jordan Robertson on problems associated with tin whiskers.
The article is thorough in its look at a wide range of product failures that have been ascribed to whisker growth in electronic components. Robertson points to the log kept by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. that details component failures that were likely caused by tin whisker growth.
Robertson also speaks with industry experts from iNEMI, Alcatel-Lucent and IBM who warn that whisker failure will likely increase as exempt industries start using pure tin components that are no longer available in leaded versions.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.