To say that we have transitioned to lead free is an assumption. The military has started a very expensive research program to find a "new" solder. Aerospace and medical still have not found an alternative.
Does anyone remember when Physio Control was shut down by the FDA for almost 2 years when one of their defibrillator killed the operator? It almost ruined them. That was not even tin slivers. Fortunately, medical is still exempt.
Exactly how does one calculate MTBF with ROHS solder, where tin slivers can grow between any 2 points within 0.1 inches of each other? (Yes, really, 0.1 inches a NASA documented photo of a tin sliver growing across two wire wrap pins).
It is one thing to tell someone else that they have to change a basic known reliable process that affects their future to an unknown process. It is quite another thing when your life hangs in the balance on that unknown process. Try standing in the other persons shoes.
Most people have no understanding of the extreme engineering challenges that are faced by technical professionals or how narrow the design margins really are. Some are barely feasible with know good processes.
Let's say that every day you walk out of your front door and straight out to your car. Well, one day, someone makes the decision that it would be good for the environment if you had to crawl over a 6 foot wall between your front door and the car, both ways. Are you up for that? Can you make the "transition" to walk-free?
Unless you are happily traveling at 65 MPH and suddenly, a damn RoHS solder decides to fail and causes your car to become uncontrollable...:)
The thing is: It would have been MUCH better to regulate electronic garbage disposal, than to emit stupidly conceived laws to ban lead in solders! I have had my dose of frustration and economic loss thanks to that initiative, even when I have salvaged quite a few consumer and industrial electronics previously disabled by that stupid measure (RoHS). Many devices will fail for years to come thaks to dumb European politicians, creating much more electronic garbage.
The greater risk, is that the world is turning towards dumb politicians imposing bad decisions on the rest of the people and too ignorant (but phanatic) people embracing so called "green" attitudes that in the end produce more harm than good.
Case in point: absolutely dumb traffic measures that reduce the number of automobile lanes in order to assign exclusive lanes (extra wide ones) to "ecologic" buses (that aren't, since those are still diesel burning polluting ones), that provoque unusually serious traffic jams while raising many times the air pollution due to cars traveling at less than 2.0 MPH averages!, while the exclusively for Bus lane remains empty over 99% of the time.
Another: "A day without using your car" programs. In the end, people resorted to buy a second (and in many cases a third) automobile to avoid being stranded one or two days every week; causing a much more higher overall emissions because people bought second hand vehicles that were much more polluting than their main car, which was prevented from running that particular day! (Both examples are in practice in Mexico City, FYI)
Unless society and knowledgeable people (like engineers, of course) step in and demand more common sense, politicians and phanatic "green" people will do more harm than good.
Marky Mark, I'm familiar with that feeling in mil/aero. I covered its effects on that sector extensively for a few years. But many of us, myself included, feel it's better in the long run for the health of everyone and everything. I.e., the greater good. The big challenge is finding the right replacement materials and processes.
My recollection of the published papers that led to the frenzy that started the ROHS actions is that there was some report made that grossly exaggerated the quantities of lead in discarded computers. They described the number of scrapped computers and the weight of lead in them, and unlike most folks, I worked out the math, given their numbers. They were asserting that there were several pounds of lead in each scrap computer. I had examined a number of the original PCs and clones, which were the computers of the day, and concluded that in no case would there be more than an ounce of lead in any of them. The only data that I was unable to examine at the time is the weight of lead in the glass of one of those "leaded glass" CRTs. Does anybody have any information about what percentage of lead is used in such leaded glass? If they had presumed that the CRTs were made of lead, and had that been correct, the data may have been a bit closer to correct. But my information is that the lead in leaded glass is quite solidly bound there, even if the glass is melted, although not if the glass is vaporised. And who vaporises glass?
I love PVC in my home (in So. Florida) because it doesn't sweat as much and it's SO much easier to work with in home repair. On the continuing problem of politicians – well, I think you and I are solidly on the same page. (Wouldn't this nation be a better place if an engineering degree was a prerequisite for running for Public Office-?) When I see something ridiculous being implemented, I often comment to people, " ... that decision was made by overweight men sitting in red velvet chairs, far removed the reality of this place". People tend to 'get' that.
Great points, John – I share your frustration. Hypocritical that private industry was "mandated" to adopt this, yet federal programs deemed critical (military and aerospace) were exempt. (I would wager that any remaining H Bombs in existence did not adopt lead-free!)
The one point I take exception to is the thought that it was a way to get into your pockets. The manufacturing industries did not want to do this; it was the environmental lobbyists, who answer only to Mother Earth, and are too pure to be saddled by something as dirty as money.
In a separately threaded comment, I speculated the cost of this initiative to run into the Billions and there are very few up-sides from a cash-flow perspective.
PVC pipe is great for Drain, Waste and Vent (DWV) applications, but I'm not sure about using it for supply-line applications, where the water is under pressure. In fact, it may be illegal for use on supply lines in my home state of Massachusetts, although it is legal (and widely used) for DWV applications here.
That said, it will be a continuing problem as long as the people writing the rules don't have any knowledge in the field they are regulating, which is another way of saying it will be a problem as long as we have politicians (forever). ;-)
I agree with all your observations, and it is far-easier to use; I continue to use it exclusively.
The one good thing that came from the cross-over was that I was often sought-out to determine root-cause failures, and came to quickly recognize those dull-grainy joints you described as leading causes.
Great points, ratkinsonjr. All good examples (except PVC plumbing, which I love). Environmental Lobbyists are a strong-willed and powerful group wielding far-reaching power over public opinion; -- opinion which is easily misled by "partial" data points. And the biggest problem, is the 'public-opinion' of those folks seated in legislative seats, who don't fully understand the far-reaching ramifications of their decisions. It's frustrating.
This opens the argument I've been making for a while now; that the 'Green Initiatives' --- while nice in theory --- many times do not pan-out, when scrutinized by a rational long-range logistical thinking . The posturing of the environmental lobbyists (in this case, the EU as the leaders) convinced the whole world to change for their cause.
You bring up valid points that the same lobbyists will probably choose NOT to review in any detail; and while you humbly concede your new idea may sound radical, I wonder what the total price tag was for the RoHS initiative globally? It must have run into the 'Billions' --- Talk about Radical.
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