Thursday, July 28, 2016
VOLUME -25 NUMBER 6
Publication Date: 06/1/2010
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ARCHIVE >  June 2010 Issue >  Tech-Op-Ed > 

The Latest Serving of RoHS Nonsense
Jacob Fattal, Publisher
The European Union is once again trying to create chaos out of what had been an orderly process of complying with the RoHS Directive. The IPC has taken strong exception to this latest move by a report issued by ChemSec that it says "is misleading, incomplete, and misrepresentative of the electronics industry" (see page 1 this issue of U.S. Tech).

To further quote the IPC: "In refuting the report, IPC is continuing its efforts to seek revisions to the RoHS Directive that are `based on science and result in genuine environmental improvements.'" In effect, what IPC is saying is, "If it's not broken, don't fix it." To backtrack several years, the entire RoHS Directive had been based on poor and mis-information. Keeping excessive lead out of the landfills would have simply involved a good, government overseen recycling program, something that had already been underway in Japan and with some of the larger manufacturers in Europe. Today we are saddled with almost impossible regulations that result in higher costs for equipment, processes and end products, often with questionable reliability — all in the quest to keep them lead-free.

In the meantime, certain categories have been exempted from RoHS compliance, notably military, aerospace and medical — categories where reliability is more important than being lead-free. The questionable reliability of RoHS-compliant products was known long before the directive went into effect. In just one example, there have been hundreds of papers and discussions about tin-whisker growth and the short-circuits that result. Thus today our industry is saddled with an Orwellian solution to what had been a non-problem. Today's big problem is trying to make RoHS work across the board. But it just won't; therefore the military, aerospace and medical exemptions. These exemptions say very clearly that lead-free final products have very poor reliability.

The European Union is trying once again to fix a problem that doesn't exist. The IPC is quite correct in taking a strong stand against ChemSec and its horrified attitude over brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Is this another case of the electronics industry being forced to knuckle under to a bullying European market? RoHS was totally unneeded, but it was forced on us. Now what is going to happen with BFR? Let your voice be heard; let the IPC know you stand behind them.  
 

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