Well July 1st will be here on Saturday. Is everyone RoHS compliant? Probably not. As a materials supplier we are often asked to assist our customer’s with the Pb-free transition. Most of the large OEMs and CMs have made the switch (or have Pb-free lines and material sets ready to be used). There are still a surprisingly large number of small to medium sized manufacturers that are still under the impression that the EU RoHS legislation does not apply to them. After asking a few questions you find out that in several of these locations they are building a sub assembly that goes into another product where they have materials heading into the EU. Now they are in a mad scramble to be compliant. Luckily the electronics industry has quite a bit of information published over the last few years that can assist these companies (for example: SMTA Knowledge Base, IPC Pb-free web site, material suppliers, and iNEMI).
One of the most common excuses that customers use are related to the movement to tin (Sn) plating. Namely, tin-whiskers.
A great resource for tin-whisker information is the NASA website. iNEMI has been doing a lot of work on trying to understand the mechanism and how to test for whiskering. That work has evolved into a standards and test methods that can be used to help understand and test for whiskering (Environmental Acceptance Requirements for Tin Whisker Susceptibility of Tin and Tin Alloy Surface Finishes [JESD201], Current Tin Whiskers Theory and Mitigation Practices Guideline [JESD22A121.01] , and Current Tin Whiskers Theory and
Mitigation Practices Guideline [JP002] ).
Certainly, tin-whiskers are of great concern for high-reliability products (such as military, and aerospace). For many commercial level products this does not need to be as much of a concern. Of course using these new standards and guidelines can help both customers and manufactures truly understand the risks involved rather than making snap judgments.
Good luck to you all!!