Thanks for the reply. You may well be right. RoHS compliance in electronics is just about 5 or 6 years old now. I began writing about it a couple of years before that. The problems in finding solder replacements that were good enough and didn't require cooking the board at much higher temperatures than tin/lead--thus melting other materials or at least shortening their lifespans, as well as all kinds of differential CTE problems--were legendary. Re the health issues, I'm grateful we don't have lead water pipes out here. One of these days I'll be able to replace all our galvanized steel plumbing with copper.
I didn't realize you covered RoHS, Ann. I did too. For a couple years before and after the RoHS deadline, I ran a Lead-Free Zone mini-website here at Design News. It was a hot site until the RoHS deadline came and went, at which point I shifted to covering REACH and all the different flavors of RoHS (China, Korea, California). Now it seems to be a fairly quiet subject.
My RoHS coverage was focused on what was happening on the PCB and how replacing various materials, most obviously lead solder materials, had various effects on production and performance. That coverage slowed down, as apparently yours did, when the problems started getting solved.
I know there are still those out there who says the problem hasn't been solved. At this ploint, that doesn't seem to be a widely held position. Even so, when electronics fail, there is a number of people who yell, "Tin Whiskers." That voice rose up when Toyota was having its accelerator problems.
Whether or not you choose to deny it, the tin whiskers problem is real, as are the problems with brittle joints and components stressed by overheating during assembly. Many of the complaints we hear about and read in Design News relating to poor American design or Chinese manufacturing and the short life of electronics including appliances, cameras, cellphones, computers, and MP3 players are due to problems with solder.
I've repaired my son's dryer (brittle solder joints between the relay pins and the circuit board) and the remote control for my DVR (probably tin whiskers, as the problem was resolved by brushing the closely-spaced leads of all surface-mount components with a fine brass "toothbrush." Probably a half-dozen other such repairs too.
Larry, you very well may be right. Yet I would think the problem would be even more widespread, enough for component manufacturers and brand owners to raise a stink about it. Yet none of them are saying much that I can see. The electronics industry seems pretty blasé about the subject these days.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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.