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Your lead free soldering experiences?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Leftyretro, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. Leftyretro

    Leftyretro New Member

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    So I've seen that most of the component manufactures have or are converting to lead free products, I know the basics of why and how but looking for practical problems or advice some on you might have come across.

    I have a nice normal soldering station and enough tin/lead solder to last my lifetime so I'm mostly interested in any future problems I might run up across continuing to use what I have always used.

    Such as will lead free component leads not solder well with tin/lead solder?. Will new blank PCBs still accept lead solder onto their pads and into their vias?

    I don't plan on ever selling anything I create so I don't think the laws apply to me as far as being able to continue to use my existing solder and tools, is this naive on me?

    I'm also hoping that a whole lot of older leaded components become avalible on E-bay for great prices that can't be sold via normal commerical retail means, is that a possiblity? Does the law require component manufactures to destroy their old lead stock after a certain date?


    Lefty
     
  2. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

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    It's a pain in the ass to solder it if you don't have great equipment. It's even worse to desolder it. Standard lead-free solder and leaded solder (soldering, plated, component pin, or otherwise) mix fines. THere are a few exotic compounds (like really really really low temperature solder with crappy mechanical properties, and a few others that are really sensitive to impurities) out there that do not, but you won't run into those unless you go out looking for them (no one uses them for those reasons so it's all special order). The problem for me is melting the solder in the first place- it mixes fine once it's melted.

    The ROHS directive allows components to be used until their EOL, so no they won't be on Ebay (they just cant be used in parts sold in the EU). It's even worse for the environment to go right ahead and destroy perfectly good Pb components. It's much better to just use them since they've already been made.

    The laws do not apply to you since you are not selling them (assuming you can still find lead solder in the store it in the future). Still, don't just toss it in the trash though.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2007
  3. mneary

    mneary New Member

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    In answer to your questions,
    (1) Most (all I've seen) lead-free components solder just fine with good old 60/40.
    (2) You have to ask about your blank PCBs. Some use gold instead of tin/lead which is actually better. Some use bare tin which eventually tarnishes.
    (3) US and California aren't RoHS yet, and as dknguyen points out, anything you don't sell probably won't ever be a problem.
    (4) Your existing solder and tools will be fine until you deplete your stock. If you already have a lifetime supply, no problem.
    (5) The laws apply to EU only for the time being.
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. Leftyretro

    Leftyretro New Member

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    Thanks

    On "(5) The laws apply to EU only for the time being."

    It seems that the EU law required that any components imported or sold to them also had to be lead free, so that every large semiconductor manufacturer in California that markets or wants to continue to market there has had to convert over. Just check out all the part number changes in Digikey in their last couple of yearly catalogs. And I suspect it will not be very cost effective to continue to manufacture new products in both lead free and non lead free versions, so while the law may not apply to the US it has indeed had the same results as if it had, no ?

    Lefty
     
  6. hjames

    hjames New Member

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    Lead-free parts are spec'd to survive the higher soldering temperatures. Most lead-free finishes are compatible with leaded solder. (Apparently some lead-free BGA/CSP style packages aren't... (1))

    I doubt any one is going to have any clearance sales any time soon. If nothing else, those leaded parts are going to become rarer commodities as existing/high-reliability products eat up what remains of the inventory/production while the majority of consumer goods uses the lead-free variants.

    Oh, and keep in mind we'll have a front seat to whole RoHS mess - the California legislature seems to have set a deadline of 2010 for our very own RoHS look-alike(2).

    (1) http://www.national.com/packaging/leadfree/faqs.html
    (2) http://www.greensupplyline.com/howt...SNDLPCKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleId=189500189&pgno=2
     
  7. Sceadwian

    Sceadwian Banned

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    Between Lead and Hexavalent chromium the ELV and ROHS directives are currently wreaking massive havoc over the entire globe. I work in a small plating shop in a medium sized city in the U.S. and I have to deal with it because of the vague trace amounts of hex chrome in a yellow dichromate finish that we use and some other companies use in their clear chromate's. It's really rather stupid. We do many thousands of dollars in business every week from customers that simply because there are no current analytical methods that are cost effective exist to test the hex chrome content of the coatings that they will have the entire coating stripped and replated at full price just to get the certification. It's good business for us, but it's absolutely absurd from a technical and logistics standpoint. It's like spending a thousand dollars per fly swatted, and saying you can only have 1 fly per mile.
     
  8. Hero999

    Hero999 Banned

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    I have a large stock of lead solder so it doesn't bother me at the moment. I have noticed though that Craplin have stopped selling lead solder and I suppose the same goes for RS and Farnell.
     

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