OnBoard Technology April 2004 - page 54www.Onboard-Technology.com
Q U A L I T Y
The PCB fabrication and electron-ics packaging / assembly indus-tries use many chemical processes,some of which are regarded as con-taining substances harmful to theenvironment. Over the last yearsenvironmental issues have in-creasingly had an impact on theseindustries. New legislation andstricter rules are forcing industrialsectors to adopt new manufactur-ing practices, and to move towardsthe proscription or restrictionof hazardous substances such asLead, Chromium and brominatedﬂame retardants, etc. In the fu-ture, the use of these materials willalso generally introduce additionalcosts - with signiﬁcant impct onproﬁtability and competitiveness- because they are difﬁcult to dis-pose of and treat. Around the world, the major in-dustrial nations are rapidly mov-ing to eliminate Lead from manu-facturing processes, including fab-rication and assembly of printedcircuit boards with components.North America, the European Un-ion, and Japan all have plans to go“Lead- free,” making it imperativefor many companies to move awayfrom Lead as soon as possible.Some companies are taking advan-tage of the situation and are using“Lead-free” as a major marketinginitiative, for example in the con-sumer market.The move to Lead-free solder hasa particularly important impact onall phases of printed circuit boardassembly, including test and in-spection. Some of the technicalissues involved and the impact of Lead-free solder on the major testand inspection technologies - au-tomated optical inspection (AOI),automated X-ray inspection (AXI),and in-circuit test (ICT) – are ex-amined below.
New solder formulations
The upcoming ban on the useof Lead has prompted electron-ics manufacturers and industryorganizations such as NEMI (Na-tional Electronics ManufacturingInitiative) and IPC to consider sev-eral alternatives to the traditionalTin-Lead solder chemistry. Tera-dyne has participated in NEMI’s“Roadmap of Lead-free Assemblyin North America,” the “Lead-Free Hybrid Assembly and ReworkProject,” and in the IPC 7-32 sol-der inspectability standards com-mittee.New Lead-free formulations in-clude Tin-Silver-Copper and Tin-Copper. The majority of the elec-tronics industry seems to be mov-ing toward the Tin-Silver-Copperfamily of alloys for Lead-free sol-dering. NEMI has recommendedan “industry standard” Lead-freealloy of Sn3.9Ag0.6Cu (+/- 0.2%)for reﬂow and Sn0.7Cu for wavesolder. However, as with any proc-ess change, the most appropriatemix for a broad range of applica-tions should be carefully consid-ered, along with the logistics andeconomics of specifying a particu-lar alloy.
Lead-free solder mixes have highermelting points, which can lead topossible component and/or boarddamage. With Lead-free solderformulations, melt temperaturesrise from 183
C to approximately217
C for SnAgCu, with tempera-ture spikes as high as 260
C. Thehigh temperatures can be some- what reduced by longer pre-heattimes. Rework temperatures alsoare affected, with some parts reach-ing 280
C. Components need tobe qualiﬁed for these higher tem-peratures, and some non-qualiﬁedcomponents may actually requirehand assembly, with relevant ad- junctive and unpredictable costs.
Optical inspection issues
Inspecting Lead-free solder termi-nations is fundamentally no differ-ent than inspecting a conventionalleaded joint. The image of a Lead-free joint is similar in appearanceto that of a traditional Tin-lead joint. The key to inspecting ei-ther type of solder is an inspec-tion mechanism that can correctlymeasure the visual attributes of each image type.However, there are some differ-ences in the visual appearance be-tween Lead-free and leaded solder joints that can affect AOI systems.Lead-free solder joints are typicallymore striated and rough than cor-responding lead joints, due to thephase transition from liquid tosolid. As a result the joints may ap-pear slightly duller and uneven. Also, Lead-free solder has a highersurface tension and does not ﬂowas readily as leaded solder, causinga slightly different-shaped ﬁllet.These visual differences will prob-ably require a recalibration of AOIequipment and software. For ex-ample, automatically learned passlevels in some AOI systems maybe slightly different for Lead-free joints.If a company is currently usinghuman inspectors and consideringmoving to AOI, now may be a logi-cal time to deploy these systems
Switching To Lead-Free Solder:Test And Inspection Issues
by Michael J. Smith,Teradyne