Continuing the Lasky TechNet Counterpoint...and the Beat Goes On

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A couple of weeks ago, the article below appeared in SMTonline, based in part on a very busy thread in IPC's TechNet.

Dr. Lasky's Lead-Free Solder Interview Stirs Up Heated TechNet Counterpoint

Dr. Lasky then supplied a statement specially to SMTonline. It is an expansion of a similar TechNet response to his critics.

Now we shall hear from some TechNet responders to Dr. Ron's TechNet response--edited and selected (there are so many!). You'll see my comments/responses below in red.

Re: [TN] Lead Free solder has performed well...

Friday, August 12, 2011 9:29 AMFrom: "Bob Landman"  To:

Correct indeed. When deaths from tin whiskers have been documented, the world press will jump on this fiasco like sharks to chum in the water. Then we can sit back and enjoy watching those imbeciles in Brussels try to explain their faulty logic.

Of course the cellphone industry could have used SAC solder on tin/lead plated terminations any time they wanted to. Lasky's Motorola argument is specious.

Note also that he never rebutted my comments re: tin whiskers. Totally ignored them. Tin whiskers are real, they happen randomly and they have the potential to kill people, will fill landfills with products that prematurely fail.

Look at the world's economy today. Who can afford to replace consumer electronics every few years? I'm not speaking about cellphones or tablets, I'm speaking about washers, dryers, large screen TVs, automobiles, general aviation airplanes, pleasure boat radars, the electric "smart" grid (billions of devices expected to be sold and have 20 year lifetimes), etc... Electronics is invading all consumer space, from your coffee pot to your toothbrush (and some toilets such as the Japanese Toto brand with heated seat and a bidet for $2,500).

I have an electric utility client who was going to do automated meter reading (AMR) to replace mechanical watt-hour meters, but that project has been deferred because of the bad economy. When I told him about tin whiskers he said he would write into the future specs that they must be made with tin/lead technology as they were going to AMR to make the meters last LONGER, reduce SERVICE calls! Not to increase them!

This industry has a lot of explaining to do, the piper to pay. Never say never. Can't means won't.

This stupid legislation can be reversed to allow lead back into solder.

Leave it to the Japanese to do what we in the West are too timid to do. Domo arigato, Japan.

My colleagues Denny Fritz, Gordon Davy and I were compelled to develop a nickel metal capping process to prevent tin from whiskering and next month we'll have much more to disclose about how to stop whiskers. Some of you may have learned of the process having read John Burke's article, see That being said, we would gladly pack it in were the world to return to sanity, return to providing tin/lead plating component terminations en mass. For those of us who still use tin/lead solder, that's all we need for our "lead control plan."

Bob LandmanH&L Instruments, LLCLDF Coatings, LLC---------------------------------------------------------------Original Message-----From: Stadem, Richard D.Sent: Friday, August 12, 2011 10:59 AMTo: TechNet@IPC.ORG Subject: Re: [TN] Lead Free solder has performed well...

Hi, Pete:Rex nailed it. Perfectly.You and I and all of us understand the point of the EU legislation was to be "green" or at least appear to be. However, lead in solder was already "green," as it turns out. Rex was simply stating that the due diligence was never done by the EU before they imposed the lead ban and then they and Mr. Lasky tooted their own horns and announced that lead-free solder was a huge success. But the whole world knows it was just the opposite of a huge success in terms of its impact on the environment, and it fostered no benefits in terms of health improvement directly because there were none required. In fact, as both Rex and Mr. Lasky have agreed, the lead ban instigated the growth of illegal (and unnecessary) recycling industries that have contributed to the pollution in China's rivers, and has had a very negative direct health impact on the populations of large cities in China, India and elsewhere.

Lead ingestion into the human body from solder was never an issue to begin with.

As I stated in my original post on this subject, the only people who CAN lay claim for any success with regards to lead-free reliability are those who made it work in spite of the bumbling idiots who instigated it without any regard to the effects of their actions, and none of those people who made it work were government bureaucrats. The people who made it work had names like Hwang, Hillman, Gregory, Wenger, Engelmaier, et al.

And I, for one, do not accept that it is a done deal. Someday, when the EU politicians (and others) who stand to lose face in this issue are gone, the almighty dollar will make leaded solder look really good again.

And guess what? The dollar always wins.-------------------------------------------------------------------

On 12 Aug 2011, at 14:28, "Pete" <peter.houwen@CHECKPT.COM> wrote:

Everything about the lead-free legislation is wrong, from it's intended purpose to it's end result. From the standpoint that the whole point was to help the environment, and it's more likely to have increased environmental damage, it's been a collossal failure.

But, we're stuck with it. Japan's petition is going to be met withthe same smug reaction that was applied when the EU used thislegistlation to prove their ability to shape global legislation. Socomplaining about it isn't going to help. The damage is done, thebest we can do is learn the best way to deal with it. So far, theindustry has done a commendable job learning to accomplish somethingwe thought nearly impossible.

It's just tough for an engineering mentality to put so much effort into something we know is far from the best answer.



Here's a little debate-within-debate, Ron versus Rex:

Re: [TN] Lead Free solder has performed well...

Thursday, August 11, 2011 12:07 AMFrom "Rex Waygood" <Rex.Waygood@HANSATECHEMS.COM>

Ron: I thought I posted this.

Rex: You did.

Ron: Since there has been much discussion about what it has been assumed that I said about lead-free solder, it would seem to be reasonable to share my actual thoughts on the status of lead-free. So here are some of them:Lead-free is here. It is not going away.

Rex: Unfortunately true. That doesn't make the original decisioncorrect.

Ron: So let's understand how it affects us. I don't have a problem with discussing lead-free's short comings, but spending a great deal of time acting like it will be repealed if we complain enough is a waste of time.

Rex: Agreed, but you did post twice.

Ron: Let's discuss reliability, process challenges, concerns over silver and tin costs and supply, electrical use, etc. But let the discussions be based on data and analysis, not emotions.

I agree that lead-free solder was and is not now needed to protect the environment or the citizens of the European Union. It has never been demonstrated that lead containing solders are a threat in land-fills and it has been demonstrated that leaded solders can be safely recycled. In addition, establishing lead-free assembly cost upwards of $50 billion and continues to present challenges and require investment.

Rex: I must of missed something here--I thought that was the reason we were all forced to introduce this process. My recollection was that was exactly the justification used.

Ron: Although lead-free was not needed to protect consumers or theenvironment in the EU, since a large proportion of re-cycling isperformed "illegally" in third world countries, it is likely safer for the untrained and unregulated re-cylers of the third world to recycle lead-free solders than leaded solders.

Rex: Unfortunately, lead free doesn't tackle this problem for many years as the millions of tons of legacy WEEE will still be ending up where it can do its environmental and human damage. Also the illegal WEEE route doesn't just put lead into the environment and poison humans there are many other by-products of this process. Where is the evidence that tin is good for the environment? What could have been done with all that human effort if the illegal WEEE trade had been tackled? It still isn't being tackled and we are still poisoning people with things, as well as lead. A UK recycling facility runs at half capacity because it is too easy to ship containers of WEEE as second user goods (it isn't) to third world countries and the chances of getting caught are too low.

Ron: Reliability of lead-free assembled commercial type products has been demonstrated in the lab and in the field.

Rex: So what? Was this legislation necessary? Tin lead had 50 years plus of reliability data.

Ron: I am referring to 0°C to 100°C type thermal cycling and drop shock testing, with SAC alloys. The experimental data of Henshall and Coyle presented last year at SMTAI support this. Their work represents millions of dollars of testing by teams of major companies. Although RoHS is only five years old, Motorola has about 10 years of field data. They claim equal or better reliability with lead-free. Add this to the trillions of dollars of products manufactured since RoHS was enacted, with no major reliability problems and it would be hard to argue that commercial product reliability has not been demonstrated.

But, I agree--harsh environment, mission critical, long-life reliability of lead-free solder has not been demonstrated.

Rex: This is still retrospective justification for a poor decision. The point is we didn't need to do the change.

Any reduction of the life of products is likely to increase the flow of WEEE into the illegal processing trade and will not make the situation better. At one point the average life of a phone in the UK was about a year!

Ron: It would be hard to over-state the benefit of lead-free solder's poorerspreading enabling high performance mobile products.

Rex: I don't believe it was necessary to burden the whole of the world's electronics manufacturing system to solve the problem of producing phones. If the CEMs making phones where unable to solve their process problems without invoking lead free then they were free to do so. This isn't actually something I believe anyway. Although our experience is small in comparison to phone manufacturers we have made thousands of boards using telephone technology parts using lead processes for the U.S. telecoms market. It wasn't easy but the process problems were solved. We didn't say to the U.S. customer you have to take lead free.

Ron: There are now 5.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions in a world of 7 billion people. No electronic product has made such a market penetration. Lead-free solder has aided this feat in enabling tremendous function in a small size.

Rex: Please provide proof that there were no other solutions to aprocessing problem and that to achieve this we had to force the whole world to change the manufacturing process.

Your post to me is like that provided by a politician who makes a very bad decision and then tries to justify it retrospectively with a complete red herring.


 Re: [TN] Lead Free solder has performed well...

Friday, August 12, 2011 11:47 AMFrom: "Pete" <peter.houwen@CHECKPT.COM>

I AGREE 100% with what Rex said to Ron. I just think Ron was trying to make one point, Rex was debating it with a completely different point. And since I took Ron's point to be that regardless of the sanity of lead-free, the industry has done well dealing with it, so we should be proud of the accomplishment rather than just rail against it, Rex may have inadvertantly proved Ron's point.

Re: [TN] Lead Free solder has performed well...

Thursday, August 11, 2011 8:20 AMFrom: "Graham Naisbitt" graham.naisbitt@GEN3SYSTEMS.COMTo: TechNet@IPC.ORG

Hello Techies everywhere:

You might be interested to know that our Japanese cousins are presently lobbying the EU and others, to permit the use of a small amount of lead in soldering alloys. They are doing this because of certain concerns over product reliability.

Regards,Graham Naisbitt - KBO

Email: Phone: +44 (0)12 5252 1500Web:

That's all for now—stay tuned. It will get hotter!!


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