HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
REGISTER   |   LOGIN   |   HELP
Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Beth Stackpole   1/24/2012 6:40:30 AM
NO RATINGS
Baking your board--now that's a new concept, but apparently an effective one so thanks for bringing it to the Design News community's attention.

One comment you made that struck me--that the $500 printer would likely be your last printer purchase ever. I don't think any one can say that about any product these days, particularly home office printers. These units appear to be so flimsy and designed for a very short shelf life. What have I heard folks talk about in this community--designing for planned obsolescence. I'd say this is a perfect example.

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Ratsky   1/24/2012 11:04:36 AM
NO RATINGS
About "the last printer":  there's another factor to consider.  I do a lot of photography (grandchildren!) and some years ago (when I switched to digital exclusively, and bought a DSLR) I needed a really good photo-quality printer to replace my venerable HP855 (which died completely soon after).  Since I also needed to do some larger-format printing, I chose a mid-high end Canon i9900 ink jet for about $400, as I couldn't afford the "best" design, dye-sub.  It has served my purposes admirably, but it's quite expensive to feed:  8 ink cartridges, currently costing me more than $10.00 each (in a multi-pack, on-line).  And, they don't print many high-res images (maybe a handful of 13x19 inch) before severeal need replacing.  I did try "private-label" cartridges just ONCE; saved a couple of bucks but ended up having to buy a new $85 print head!  Here's the REAL kicker: there are only a couple of sellers who even stock the full multi-packs or the two "unique" photo cartridges used only by this printer and one of its siblings.  NONE of the many office supply chains stock these anymore and only a couple allow ordering, so I suppose it's only a matter of time before they are completely discontinued.  Then this fine tool will become a museum piece, eventually finding its way to a recycling center, and I'll have to find a suitable replacement.  This is a bit worse than "planned obsolescence," more like "forced obsolescence."

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Beth Stackpole   1/24/2012 12:46:38 PM
NO RATINGS
@Ratsky: Sorry to hear about your experience, but unfortunately, you're hardly alone. Actually your comment about forced obsolescence is probably a bit closer to what I was describing. Apparently, it's more common than one would think.

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Alexander Wolfe   1/24/2012 3:30:27 PM
NO RATINGS
That happened to me with a Samsung printer cartridge that I let sit too long. I wish i would've known, though I'm not sure how the oven would have reacted to the experience. (Microwaving would not likely be a good option :) I don't think obsolescence is so much the issue as it is that printers have the same short product life cycle as consumer electronics goods like cameras and iPods, yet most users intent to keep their printer for many years (until it breaks). Thus, during the life of the printer, replacement ink cartridges become progressively more expensive the further away you get from EOL (end of life) of the printer itself.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
TJ McDermott   1/26/2012 11:02:40 AM
NO RATINGS
The cell phone industry takes forced obsolescence to a new high.  They've convinced us to accept a 2-year life on phones, trained us to salivate impatiently when the next generation arrives, without ever perfecting anything.  The phone you have now will not be supported in a year, will not receive updates to fix known bugs.

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Ratsky   1/26/2012 11:48:43 AM
NO RATINGS
....and that's EXACTLY why I keep my old DUMB phone (4-year old LG) in my pants pocket, with the Blackberry in the shirt pocket.  Also, I have "network redundancy": one's AT&T, the other Verizon.  The BB UI is wretched, but beyond mere patching anyway.

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Ratsky   1/26/2012 11:53:36 AM
NO RATINGS
Oh, BTW, my rule of thumb for when it's time to replace a cell phone has always been when the battery lasts less than 2 days... built-in feature!  Unintentional, but effective, since cost of a new phone is less than a replacement battery!  At least that's a lot longer life than the folks who buy a new printer when the ink cartridge(s) run out!

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Rob Spiegel   1/26/2012 2:57:02 PM
NO RATINGS
Good point, Ratsky. There seems to be an increasing velocity of products that are disposable after a short lifetime. Smartphones take the top spot for expensive products that become throw-aways quickly. The subsidies on the cost of smartphones hide the high cost of these devices (we pay for them in the monthly billing). New features make each generation obsolete in a year to 18 months.

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Ratsky   1/26/2012 3:14:44 PM
NO RATINGS
My BB is provided by my employer, and it's a "hand-me-down" from someone else (who probably upgraded to an iPhone or Android).  The LG is my own, and contract expired years ago; I changed the plan to prepaid (3rd-party provider) about 15 months ago.  Costs me on average less than $10/month for mine, less than $3 for my wife's!  You're right, of course about smartphones being amortized over the contract duration. You can beat this, though, by buying a slightly used one on-line (or refurbs from 3rd-party resellers like I use) for less than that battery replacement cost I mentioned, and going pre-paid.  You'll never get the "latest and greatest", but if it does what you need it to do, who cares?

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Rob Spiegel   1/27/2012 2:38:29 PM
NO RATINGS

I agree, Ratsky. I have a BB for work. My personal phone is a dumbphone. I use it primarily to logistics (calling someone and saying, "Where did you say you lived" or that I'm stuck in traffic and running late. So I don't care about features. Life is much different from my 16-year-old daughter who lives for the features. My guess is this is a worldwide generational phenomenon.


Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Ratsky   1/27/2012 3:12:03 PM
NO RATINGS
Yup!  My grandson just turned 3.  He got his first iPhone (enabled only for WiFi) at 15 months! It was his daddy's, and had been replaced by a newer model.  In no time, he was quite adept at using it to watch videos, and knew all of the gestural motions.  He had learned all this by watching his parents use it, and started to grab it just before the upgrade.  After a few months of enjoying HIS phone, he decided his parents' phone were BETTER, and soon started the grab and flip routine again.  Fortunately for him, a new iPhone came out, and Mommy and Daddy upgraded, etc.  THEN they bought an iPad; within 3 weeks, it also was "his", although he did graciously allow M & D to use it sometimes.  Now he has a Kindle too, and uses all 3 devices at his whim!  He even bought a season series of kiddie videos with the Kindle (a parent had forgotten to log out of the Store after buying something) last week while we were visiting.  Folks found out when the charges hit the credit card!  Makes my wife and I feel REALLY old!

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Planned obsolescence: A real design approach
Rob Spiegel   1/27/2012 3:22:14 PM
NO RATINGS
That's a great story, Ratsky. iPads have become famous for their toddler-friendliness. We've all heard the stories of kids playing on the iPad before they know how to walk or talk. Buying stuff while the parents are not looking is a new one on me.

bob from maine
User Rank
Platinum
Color Printers in general
bob from maine   1/24/2012 1:26:06 PM
NO RATINGS
There is a locally owned camera store who develops film and does prints. It has proven much easier and cheaper to buy a nearly discontinued color printer from the big box store for $50-60, use it until the cartridges run-out (about a year in my house), printing photos at the lowest resolution, the buy another one. After making alterations and trial prints on my home printerl I find the exact picture I want, download the image onto a thumb USB drive, go to the camera store and they print the pictures with much higher density on the best printer available on the market and I don't have to buy ink cartridges. If I want a contact sheet I can print it at home without using too much ink. I just bought a $3000 plus color printer for work and had to replace the formatter board 2x and finally get a replacement printer under warranty. I'd guess HP is aware of the issue but is having trouble fixing it.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
User Rank
Blogger
Cold Solder Joints in Hi-Temp Solder
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   1/24/2012 3:55:51 PM

This article describes Planned (or Forced) Obsolescence as your comments describe, but also touches on a huge issue we  haven't dug into – that being RoHS initiatives which were forced onto domestic manufacturers.  This initiative was a painful learning experience for many major corporations as they struggled to learn the processing of the new Lead-Free solder.  Many DPU's were accredited to Cold Solder Joints for a long period of time.  I'd like to submit a short article on this, if anyone is interested in evolution of solder techniques...


jmiller
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cold Solder Joints in Hi-Temp Solder
jmiller   1/24/2012 5:27:56 PM
NO RATINGS
I'd be interested in hearing more.  Often it's the forced obsolescence that leads to excessive service calls because someone doesnt understand all of the functional specifications required.

wirewheels
User Rank
Iron
Re: Cold Solder Joints in Hi-Temp Solder
wirewheels   1/25/2012 9:52:25 AM
NO RATINGS
I've had success with the baking technique, not once but twice!

The first was a Lenovo Thinkpad T60 laptop with a graphics problem that made the display unreadable.  Internet research confirmed that the cause was likely a solder connection problem with the graphics chip.  Baking the motherboard got the computer running for a few more weeks, enough time to buy a replacement.

The second success was an XBox 360 with the dreaded "red ring of death", a well-known solder problem.   It was out of warranty so I figured I had nothing to lose by baking the motherboard.  Not only was it revived, it is still working six months later!

bob from maine
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cold Solder Joints in Hi-Temp Solder
bob from maine   1/25/2012 10:20:10 AM
NO RATINGS
I'd be interested to learn more about lead-free solder and how the rest of the industry is dealing with it. When RoHS was first implemented, everyone had solder issues, but now all of our suppliers have what appears to be a stable process and rejects due to solder have dropped off the chart completely.

KeithH
User Rank
Iron
Re: Cold Solder Joints in Hi-Temp Solder
KeithH   1/25/2012 10:44:09 AM
NO RATINGS
Planned obsolence - I think that is too much credit to our fellow marketers. 

As much as RoHS has become a necessary evil, it remains an evil.  Tin Whiskers are going to haunt us until someone determines its cause and a means to end it.  NASA's link:  http://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/reference/tech_papers/2011-kostic-Pb-free.pdf desribes how 'bad' product can suddenly be good as arching removes the 'short' caused by tin whiskers.  I suspect there are many issues occuring that are blamed on people that are caused by lead-free electronics - Check out NASA's report on the Toyota sudden acceleration cause.  

So the next time you have a 'bad' electronic device, take it apart and hit the electronics with some compressed air - you will probably save yourself some serious dough.  Just remember -  the problem will come back....

KeithH

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
HP quality
Charles Murray   1/24/2012 8:11:11 PM
NO RATINGS
I have to admit I'm baffled by the tales of HP quality (or lack thereof). About 15 years ago, Design News gave its annual Quality Award to HP for their efforts in printer technology. A few years after, I started hearing horror stories of HP printers and their low quality. But I have two HP Officejet 5610 All-In-One printers that are both around eight years old (I think); I've never had a single problem with either one in eight years.

Flogge
User Rank
Silver
HP quality
Flogge   1/25/2012 9:52:38 AM
NO RATINGS
Re-flowing solder on a failed board has been done for video cards for several years now. the procedure is to remove anythng that may be damaged by the heat, make small balls of tin foil and place the board on a cookie sheet, spaced away from it by the foil balls on the screw holes in the board. Bake and test. It is hit-or-miss, but in most cases not trying it leaves you with a paperweight.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: HP quality
Rob Spiegel   1/25/2012 1:12:50 PM
NO RATINGS
I've had problems with an HP printer I purchased about 4 years ago. I finally gave up on it. My guess is the quality problems coincide with outsourced manufacturing.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: HP quality... root cause.
Amclaussen   11/7/2013 12:29:11 PM
While "outsourced manufacture" could be blamed for the terrible quality issues of not just HP, but many other brands, the ROOT CAUSE is just the absolutely greedy attitude of good american brand managers pursuing to extract every fraction of the last cent from their business, while recitating the "I don't care" credo towards their customers.  It is like blaming on China everything, while 99.9% of the american businesses have sent their manufacturing over there.

BTW: I was an admirer and fan of HP for many many years... I studied engineering backed by the terrific help from my old trusty HP-45 scientific pocket calculator, and made some 80 hand made Speaker systems with the help of an old HP Audio Oscillator (which I still have, and, you guess: still works beautifully (except for a noisy attenuator potentiomeer, but that is a really MINOR flaw after more than 42 years of being fabricated)!

Other than replacing the old NiCad rechargeable batteries with NiMH ones, the old calculator still performs beautifully, and looks like new! I can't imagine the numer of millions of times its keys have been pressed, without a single failure... how about quality and reliability?

How has HP transformed from that legendary company to today's garbage producer?

Easy, just ask Carly Fiorina and other CEO's)  where did their insulting bonuses went (certainly NOT to R&D at HP.  Corruption and moral values decline is the root cause. I imagine what would say and do Bill and Dave ( William "Bill" Redington Hewlett and Dave Packard ) if they would be alive today and see how far from their "the HP way" philosophy the actual company has strayed...

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: HP quality... root cause.
Rob Spiegel   11/7/2013 12:57:21 PM
NO RATINGS
I'm with you Amclaussen. I bought a computer set-up with printer and monitor for my kids a bunch of years ago (out of self defense). It was an HP package. I felt safe with the brand. What a laugh. I got caught in that wave of HP's first quality crash. It would take a few paragraphis to explain everything that went wrong. The gist is that my kids ended up using my computer anyway.

BobGroh
User Rank
Platinum
HP Printers and life
BobGroh   1/25/2012 10:18:22 AM
NO RATINGS
A very interesting series of comments and experiences with (mostly) HP printers, end-of-life(EOF), planned obsolescence, bad solder joints, et al. For my own part, I have had pretty good luck with HP printers.  Our 'main' printer is an HP LaserJet 1012 which we have had for more than 4 years.  We about 2 toner cartridge's a year for a mostly personal/small business - printing mailing labels, articles, etc. Printer has never given us a lick of problem.

We also have a Epson All-In-One color inkjet scanner/printer which we use mainly for photograph printing (on the printer side) and as a scanner (very handy). Cost a thumping $90 some 5 years ago, very lightly used and very reliable. We lose most of our ink to just age rather than use.

Frankly I would never buy a printer with the idea that it would be my 'last' printer and hence I would never spend very much on it.  Darned market moves just too fast. I remember spending way to much money for a Diablo dasiy wheel printer - bit, bulky, slow - you name it.  Finally just gave it away to a collector.

A note on color printing - you might want to consider the use of the many commercial outfits such as SnapFish.  We use them (or someone similiar) any time we need multiples, specials, etc.  Only takes a week or less and cost is usually quite low.  Much less cost than trying to have a super printer around. 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: HP Printers and life
Charles Murray   1/25/2012 7:54:34 PM
NO RATINGS
BobGroh: I concur. The only time I ever bought an expensive printer, it was no longer state-of-the-art after two years. I've had very good luck with inexpensive printers, and I plan to keep it that way.

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Re: HP Printers and life
Tool_maker   2/1/2012 9:39:54 AM
NO RATINGS
I am fascinated by all of the efforts spent to save/revive equipment that has either failed or just been plain obsoleted. I had a HP Draftmaster RX pen plotter that I used mostly trouble free for the 6 years I was in business for myself. After taking a job in industry, it mostly sat idle unless the plotter at work screwed up and I took things home to plot.

Later I went back to school and used it again for school projects, but it sat unused for about 10 years. I wanted to get it out of my office, so I tried unsuccessfully to first sell it and then to give it away. I paid $5000 for it new and even though it had paid for itself many times over I could not bring myself to just throw it away, so periodically I would put it on Craigslist for free. I finally got a taker and to show the new owners how to load pens and paper, I ran it through the canned demo program onboard the plotter. The pens I put in were mostly dry, but the plotter ran through its paces flawlessly. I was awed.

I would never want to go back to pen plotters because of the noise and length of plotting time, but I do not think any inkjet plotter I have seen can produce the clean, crisp, well defined lines that came from my Draftmaster.

David12345
User Rank
Platinum
Re: HP Printers and life
David12345   2/2/2012 10:08:43 AM
This was an interesting thread having been in the electronic (computers, telecom, and automotive) connector business as an engineer for 22 years before I moved into the dental equipment market almost 10 years ago.  There are several PCB or connector fabrication issues that can cause failure over time correctable, at least temporarily, by an oven bake at 350 degrees F.

Tin Slivers: Once you go below 3% lead, tin whiskers can become a significant issue.  This is largely driven by electrical potential. I have heard oc cases where tin slivers even punch through soft plastic connector insulators and shorted between terminals.  This is a big problem with low voltage logic circuitry, which increases with closer circuitry spacing. Higher voltage or higher current will usually burn-out that thin errant connection. One of the early shuttles had 4 out of 5 redundant computers short-out from solder slivers floating around in zero gravity. (A nearly catastrophic result.) A high temperature bake could reflow solder to solve this problem, but I would expect to need to be up closer to 900 degrees F to do that.  A lower temperature bake could create enough plastic movement to disrupt the bogus connection.

Silver dentrite growth: A humid environment, silver, and electrical protential can grow silver dendrites until they short. Again this increases with closer circuitry spacing. Driving moisture out with heat could increase the resistance enough to temporarily resolve the problem, or plastic movement could break the errant connection.

Black Plastic Insulator Pigment: Poorly dispursed black carbon pigment in injection molded plastic insulators can cause a high resistance short.  This can be worsened with moisture driving the resistance down.  Again, baking can temporarily drive that moisture out, or cause enough plastic movement to disrupt the carbon connection.

Cold solder joint: A solder joint with inadequate temperature or movement during solidification can have microcracks that oxidize until there is a high resistance connection or open.  This can be fixed with a soldering iron, hot air reflow, or even diffusion bonding at a lower temperature could reestablish function connection.

Capacitor and resistor hygroscopic behavior: I have heard that cheaper capacitors (non-tantalum) and carbon resistors can absorb water moisture until their values create problems with the circuit.  Baking can temporarily drive that moisture out and reestablish the needed values.  Baking as low as 150 degrees F may temporarily correct this problem.

I would expect the last two possibilities are the most likely root cause problems that would be fixed temporarily by an oven bake of the PCB.  The cold solder joint may even have a good-enough bond to be permanently fixed by this bake.

Mechatron
User Rank
Iron
Re: HP Printers and life
Mechatron   3/9/2012 9:41:51 PM
NO RATINGS
Yeah, dry joint in electronics product is common. I used to work with Sony TV production line and some of the major problem with the TV circuit operation is mainly due to the dry joint. You are lucky since you are quite technical and have the courage to identify the root cause of the problem. How about the others? Its really sad that HP have this kind of problem. I also have a problem  with my HP 6000 office. The power supply breakdown for the second time in 2 years. To make things worst you cannot get it at the common electronic store. You have to pay it through bank order at a bank which do not have many branches and far away from my home. After bank in, you have to fax the copy of the payslip and then they will send it to me by courier. What happen to HP when it come to customer service? Is it the same in US or only in Malaysia?

jtaylor1477
User Rank
Iron
Re: HP Printers and life
jtaylor1477   5/29/2012 3:20:11 AM
NO RATINGS
As luck would have it his hp laserjet printer cartridge died shortly after the warranty period expired, and HP was ready to charge him €350 to repair it. Since that would pretty much buy a new one, he decided to try fixing the problem himself. He scoured the Internet for a solution to his problem, and luckily discovered that his printer might be recoverable for more info click here.

 

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
PRINTER JOYS & WOES
OLD_CURMUDGEON   1/25/2012 10:27:33 AM
NO RATINGS
Here to chime in on some personal experiences....

1)  Have a OKIDATA ML 391 wide-carriage printer connected to a DELL 486/33 PC that I still use for one program.  PC & Printer are over 20 years old & still working!

2)  Also have a H-P IIIP laser printer which I alternately connect to the DELL 486 or to the DELL TOWER w/ WINDOWS XP PRO.  Still works, after 20 years, BUT I did replace the laser motor board assembly about 6 years ago.  The kit came w/ a new board assembly AND a VCR tape w/ EXACT tear-down, remove, install, re-build instructions.  Just bought a new (NOT replenished!) toner cartridge from an outfit in California.  Was about $40.

3)  Did considerable p.c. board design work several years ago using EAGLE software.  So, I needed a color printer for checking the layouts.  Bought an EPSON printer from OFFICE DEPOT.  Was less than $100.  Used it, but had some install problems (drivers, etc.)  Needed to go to EPSON website for updated drivers.  Worked OK after that.  After only about 18 months of use I didn't need it anymore, so it sat next to the PC.  When I tried it again, the ink wouldn't flow.  Tried their built-in Diagnostics, and Printhead cleaning routine several times.  The ink was  too caked.  Then I remembered that I had a 2 year warranty from OFFICE DEPOT.  With only one month to expiration, I brought it back to the same store, filled in the paperwork, and received ALL my money back, including the sales tax.  That was the BEST part of owning an EPSON printer.

I am also an avid amateur photographer, who shoots digital AND film.  I hesitate to purchase a decent photo quality printer for several reasons, mostly I'm afraid of spending a sizable amount on the printer (CANON has some real doozies!!), only to see the printheads get permanently plugged.  For images which I want to publish, I do the same as RATSKY suggested..... downloading them to a drive or to the photo shop for printing on their high-end machines.

samsuffy
User Rank
Iron
HP Printer life
samsuffy   1/25/2012 11:09:14 AM
NO RATINGS
In 1987 I started a small business and purchased a HP Laserjet Series II Printer. I used it heavily at first and it worked well. A few years later it was out of warranty but I got a local fixit place to repair something on the motherboard that had failed. Later I replaced a damaged platen that cures the toner. The first repair was $100, the second $26. The business closed but I kept the printer. I am still using it now, having gone through 8-10 print cartridges (10,000 pages per cartridge).  The majority of my printing is documents and it still puts out a clean page. A little slow, but I am not in a hurry. It is now 24 years old and the current cartridge cost $90, but it is least the last 4 years and still doing well.

D. Sherman
User Rank
Silver
Re: HP Printer life
D. Sherman   1/25/2012 12:05:07 PM
NO RATINGS
Most likely the baking helped with either a moisture/conductivity problem, or with a thermal intermittent. Two problems in PCB manufacturing came along at almost the same time -- the switch to brittle, lead-free solder, and the switch to water-soluble flux. I've seen problems caused by both issues that could be "fixed" by baking.

If you have a cracked solder joint, the only permanent fix will be to find it and re-solder it with good solder. Typically, it's heavy components with large tabs that have the soldering problems, both because the thermal mass of the heavy part tends to result in a cold solder joint under the best of circumstances, and the weight of it exacerbates any vibration or thermal expansion problems, which can crack brittle solder. An engine control relay module in ~1990 Honda Civics was notorious for that.

If conductivity is the issue, if the device is kept in a warm dry environment henceforth, it may be fine. If not, the best solution is to scrub the board with warm, soapy water and a soft brush, blow it dry with clean air, bake it to drive out remaining moisture, and if operation over a wide range of temperature or humidity is expected, spray both sides with two thin coats of a conformal coating. Ordinary clear acrylic enamel can be used, but I prefer the silicone coating for its flexibility.

npitech
User Rank
Iron
reflow RoHS solder?
npitech   1/25/2012 12:28:22 PM
NO RATINGS
Most lead free solder used in electronic production melts around 220C (428F) and reflow temperatures are slightly higher. I have to doubt that a 350F oven fixed a lead free solder problem.

KeithH
User Rank
Iron
Re: reflow RoHS solder?
KeithH   1/25/2012 1:18:25 PM
NO RATINGS
350 F should remove tin whiskers as the melting point of tin particles is 177 C or 350 F.  Tin Whiskers range in size from 6 nm to 10 um - well within the specification of a tin particle.  Besides, 'normal handling' of a PCB will break the whiskers as most individuals do not handle PCBs properly outside of the industry and they cannot 'see' the root cause.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: reflow RoHS solder?
Rob Spiegel   1/25/2012 3:19:21 PM
NO RATINGS
Keith, it is my understanding that tin whiskers form long after the product is completed, shipped and in use. Typically they form when the solder is under stress, which makes the problem most common in military and aerospace applications. At least that's when I've seen in NASA reports.

KeithH
User Rank
Iron
Re: reflow RoHS solder?
KeithH   1/25/2012 3:55:51 PM
NO RATINGS
Rob,

I am not an expert, just an interested witness to this 'RoHS solution' party.    Tin whiskers are not a recent phenomena, they were first noticed back in the 1940's. 

If you are really interested, you need to read this NASA report.  It is quite an article about how whiskers can materialize within days or weeks.  They can start, stop and then resume for no known reason. 

That is the problem - there is no means of determining when or where they will occur as the cause is unknown - just be assured they will develop.  Thankfully most do not cause a major issue and infrequently significant damage.    Voltage does impact the presence (growth) but NASA claims they develop in vacuums, which eliminates most arguments for what we can do to prevent them.

The most serious implications are that they will penetrate conformal coatings - the only assured method to prevent it appears to be that adding Pb inhibits the growth, again the reason is unknown. 

http://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/reference/tech_papers/2011-kostic-Pb-free.pdf

KeithH

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: reflow RoHS solder?
Rob Spiegel   1/26/2012 11:01:42 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for the report, Keith. In addition to lead, gold and silver also inhibit the growth of tin whiskers. But you can imagine the problem with using gold or silver. One of the big questions that remains is how effective nickel is. Some say it's great, some say it's not. Most of the electronics industry seems pretty comfy with non-leaded solder. Military and aerospace are still exempt from RoHS.

Bryan Goss
User Rank
Gold
List of what can't take the heat of baking?
Bryan Goss   1/25/2012 12:57:03 PM
NO RATINGS
I have been fighting a problem with Mitsubishi PLCs model FX2n. They were built about the time RoHS was first being implemented. I have about 300 of them on machines around the country, and so far 5 of them have lost their minds, each in a different way. One started making addition error. Another kept changing the value of one of the customer input data. Another kept changing several of the values of battery-backed parameters. Etc. Mitsubishi is no help, all they say it that it can't be doing it or it must be my programming of it. Of course they can't explain why I have 295 out there with the same programming that work fine, or why these worked fine for years.

So I am very eager to try baking one of these, and see if that fixes it. However, I am not sure what parts can withstand the heat of baking. Does anyone have a list of things that can't be baked?

 

oldtimer8080
User Rank
Gold
Lead free solder SUCKS...
oldtimer8080   1/31/2012 12:18:48 AM
NO RATINGS
I have a stack of $400 ( ebay price now ) HP dvXXXX series motherboards and computers with GPU issues. That includes  the Compaq line too.

 

The issue is common with HP dv units, there is a lawsuit over the issue claiming improper design of the heatsinks AND defective GPUs suppied by nVidia.

 

The problem can be traced to overheat conditions by a gap between the GPU and the heat sink; many people try to fix it with the " penny " insertion. However, if the GPU gets hot enough, the heat cracks the BGA in several places, rendering the video nonop.

Since I have already been trained as an expert in soldering ( SMT and micro manipulator work ) I researched and purchased the proper tools. I have examined the YouTube videos on the " oven fix " and looked at the rework requirements to do a professional job without buying $1k worth of equipment.

 

The trick is to PREHEAT the board at 385F, then give it a hot shot with hot air at 420F AND NO MORE!!

The absolute max is around 430F. Anything higher will result in desoldering the surrounding SMT chips. I have the special tips for the hot air rework station.

 

What you want is the eutectic state in the BGAS to repair the cracks, not an actual liquid flow.

 

This is the engineering description of what the oven fix does. The pros spend $1 to $2k on a rework ststion that does the same thing on a bench top, preheat and hot air carefully controlled.

If you do this at home, buy a cheap, non contact IR thermometer to use with your paint stripper gun...

 

This problem is the reason I keep using tin/lead and silver solder when i do rework. I DESPISE the problems lead-free solder has created.

The " tin whisker " problem impact ALL devices, not just soldered ones. I've seen electron microscope pictures of IC fails ( some I induced ) at Cray Research.

Metal Migration was a common knowledge thing with IC vendors.

 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Lead free solder SUCKS...
Rob Spiegel   1/31/2012 3:06:41 PM
NO RATINGS
Good explanation Oldtimer. This sounds less like a tin whisker problem and more like a problem that comes from using lead-free solders from a process point of view. Is that right?

oldtimer8080
User Rank
Gold
Re: Lead free solder SUCKS...
oldtimer8080   1/31/2012 10:19:08 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes, I would say that the problem involves several issues.

The " lead free " solder is actually a compromise solution to get the RoHS certification. I've perviously tested several early types of lead-free solders before RoHS made lead an issue....I wont go into the politics of why I don't follow RoHS guidelines when doing rework, I just know and have personal experience with improper bonding and contact issues with lead free solder. It appears that the stuff I discovered 20 years ago still applies today.

I looked at the process curves for device mount and proper contact to get a proper solder joint. We used to have a bigger " window " of soderability when working with tin-lead ( and even silver ) solders. That " window is significantly closed with RoHS solder. There isn't much time to be at the higher temperatures before you heat damage the GPU in my example.

I had looked at this issue to make sure the builds at Cray were done with reliability, as much of the original systems were built by hand with MANY custom wires to get the speeds we got.

If we had been forced to use the RoHS solder specs over 20 years ago, our Crays would never have had the reliability they had.

 

On the ( officially a ) Metal Migration issue, repeated high heat levels make the whiskers grow. This is an atomic level problem based on movement of charged elements.

What we see today with component failures today is a result of the miniturization and crowding of internal IC components. 

( This is what information you gain when you work around a team of experts in their fields and take tke courses they offer at your local Community College )

 

 

 

oldtimer8080
User Rank
Gold
Re: Lead free solder SUCKS...
oldtimer8080   1/31/2012 10:19:09 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes, I would say that the problem involves several issues.

The " lead free " solder is actually a compromise solution to get the RoHS certification. I've perviously tested several early types of lead-free solders before RoHS made lead an issue....I wont go into the politics of why I don't follow RoHS guidelines when doing rework, I just know and have personal experience with improper bonding and contact issues with lead free solder. It appears that the stuff I discovered 20 years ago still applies today.

I looked at the process curves for device mount and proper contact to get a proper solder joint. We used to have a bigger " window " of solderability when working with tin-lead ( and even silver ) solders. That " window " is significantly closed with RoHS solder. There isn't much time to be at the higher temperatures before you heat damage the GPU in my example.

I had looked at this issue to make sure the builds at Cray were done with reliability, as much of the original systems were built by hand with MANY custom wires to get the speeds we got.

If we had been forced to use the RoHS solder specs over 20 years ago, our Crays would never have had the reliability they had.

 

On the ( officially a ) Metal Migration issue, repeated high heat levels make the whiskers grow. This is an atomic level problem based on movement of charged elements.

What we see today with component failures today is a result of the miniturization and crowding of internal IC components. 

( This is what information you gain when you work around a team of experts in their fields and take tke courses they offer at your local Community College )

 

 

 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Lead free solder SUCKS...
Rob Spiegel   2/1/2012 8:24:56 AM
NO RATINGS
You make a point that hadn't occurred to me, Oldtimer, and that's the notion the miniaturization could aggravate the problem with tin whiskers. The whiskers don't matter unless they create a short. The likelihood of creating a short will increase with miniaturization.

keschwab
User Rank
Iron
Re: Lead free solder SUCKS...
keschwab   4/11/2013 3:42:43 AM
NO RATINGS
Totally agree about lead free solder. Thanks to you and the others for a couple tips.

 

Also very interesting about the HP printers Will go in my file.

dhenz
User Rank
Iron
Re: Lead free solder SUCKS...
dhenz   6/24/2013 9:44:55 PM
NO RATINGS
I also search HP communities and forums for DIY replacement guides. We use HP inkjet cartridges for our business and we usually order HP Photosmart Ink from euroffice. These communities were helpful, I didn't need to consult a professional to get my printer fixed.



Partner Zone
Latest Analysis
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationís recent backup camera mandate could open the door to more vehicle innovations, including better graphical displays, 360-degree camera views, and the increased use of Ethernet.
With support from National Instruments, a group of dedicated students from Connally High School in Austin, where more than 50% of the students are at risk of not graduating, have created a successful robotics team that is competing in the FIRST World Championships.
Solar Impulse 2 -- a 100% solar-powered airplane -- has been completed. It features several advanced materials, some developed specifically for next year's attempted around-the-world flight.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Lumus and eyeSight have partnered to create consumer-grade devices that offer all the prime functions of smart glasses without the bulk.
More:Blogs|News
Design News Webinar Series
3/27/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York / 7:00 p.m. London
2/27/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York / 7:00 p.m. London
12/18/2013 Available On Demand
11/20/2013 Available On Demand
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Apr 21 - 25, Creating & Testing Your First RTOS Application Using MQX
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: April 29 - Day 1
Sponsored by maxon precision motors
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service