According to a recent article in EDN, a Design News sister publication, there is still a real need for electronic components containing lead. The article, “Leaded Parts Still in High Demand,” finds that manufacturers in industries that are exempt from RoHS laws, such as aerospace, defense and medical equipment, still seek leaded parts. These industries are exempt because of their need for high-reliability parts that will not break down or short out during long periods of high stress such as the low-temperatures in space applications or the high-temperatures in desert military applications.
Companies in the exempt industries are finding it difficult to procure leaded parts in a market where most component manufacturers have shifted to the production of lead-free parts. Exempt companies are shifting to expensive Mil-Spec (military specification) parts or buying dwindling quantities of leftover leaded inventory.
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.