‘Per Homogeneous Material’ Also Applies to Medical Devices Under RoHS

Folks,

It’s been awhile, let’s see what Patty is up to….

Patty was in her office, finishing lunch and reading Golf Digest. She was happy to see Tiger Woods doing better, but a little disappointed he didn’t do well in the PGA Championship. Like others, she was touched to see him holding his young son after a recent tournament.

Lost in thought, she was startled as Pete knocked on her door.

“Hey kiddo! Did you hear the latest?” Pete teased.

“OK. Go ahead and tell me. You always have the scoop,” Patty replied with a friendly chuckle. By now Patty was used to the fact that Pete always seemed to know what was going on before she did.

“Our plant in St. Paul, the one that assembles medical devices, is not going to have to convert to lead-free solder. So, nobody there is working on the transition,” Pete replied.

“They are too! As you remember, we had a lead-free and RoHS kick off meeting there in March. You were with me,” Patty shot back, a little annoyed.

“’Tis true. ‘Tis true. But, that was before Hal Lindsay hit the scene,” Pete said.

“How is that blowhard involved? Patty asked, her face turning red. Lindsay was an anti-RoHS curmudgeon who used to attend Boston area SMTA meetings. He and Patty had several heated discussions about RoHS while at these meetings. Lindsay was a physically big, intimidating man, and one of their encounters left Patty shaken. She remembered him screaming at her, “Its tree-huggers like you that allowed lead-free laws to get passed in the first place.”

“Well, the GM of the St. Paul plant has been convinced by ‘Halitosis Hal’ that they don’t need to do anything to comply with RoHS,” Pete continued.

Patty repeatedly warned Pete about using derogatory nicknames, but she forgot herself and chuckled a little bit. At one SMTA meeting, Hal’s breath was so bad that he stunk up the corner of the room in which he was sitting.

Patty composed herself, “Jeff Sparkel, is a great GM. How did Lindsay convince him it was possible to comply with RoHS and not switch to lead-free solder?” Patty asked.

“I think it has to do with ‘per homogeneous material,’” Pete replied. “I’ll have to talk to Jeff and see what is going on,” Patty stated. “Better do it soon,” Pete suggested, “Medical equipment RoHS compliance is less than a year away.”

As Pete left her office, she admonished him, “No more calling him “Halitosis Hal’,” but then she cracked up herself.

Jeff Sparkel was one of Patty’s favorite people. He was warm, engaging, hardworking, and reasonable to work with. However, he was more a businessman than an engineer. He had his MBA from Ivy University and knew The Professor.

Patty reached for her phone to give him a call. He picked up on the first ring.

“Hey Patty! What’s up? it’s great to hear from you,” Jeff said. Patty explained why she was calling, and the fact that she was alarmed at what Pete told her.

“That Lindsay is a piece of work, I’ll grant you that. But, he told us he can prove that we don’t need to go lead-free for only $10K. So we hired him,” Jeff said.

“What did you get for that?” Patty asked.

“He carefully took apart one of our medical office units that was scrapped. He extracted all of the solder and weighed it. He showed us that the weight of the solder was less than 0.05% of the weight of the unit. RoHS requires less than 0.1%, so we are golden. He wrote a report. Best $10K I ever spent. It was going to cost us more than $300K to convert to lead-free,” Sparkel summed up.

Patty had the worst sinking felling she had since she joined ACME Corp. Jeff’s business had to be RoHS compliant by July 22, 2014, and he had lost almost 6 months of prep time.

“Jeff, Yikes! Apparently no one on your team understands RoHS’s ‘per homogeneous material’ requirement” Patty exclaimed.

The was only silence on the other end of the phone.

What is, “per homogeneous material?” Is it important? Will Patty and Pete confront Hal Lindsay?

Stay tuned.

Cheers,

Dr. Ron

About Dr. Ron

Materials expert Dr. Ron Lasky is a professor of engineering and senior lecturer at Dartmouth, and senior technologist at Indium Corp. He has a Ph.D. in materials science from Cornell University, and is a prolific author and lecturer, having published more than 40 papers. He received the SMTA Founders Award in 2003.
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