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Technical Article: RoHS Compliance

Let us help you understand the basics of the RoHS specification and how it will impact manufacturing in the future.

At Conveyer & Caster we are working with our manufacturing partners to provide RoHS compliant parts when necessary for your components or equipment. Please make sure to specify “RoHS compliance needed” when requisitioning your component needs. Please note that many components do not currently meet the specification. Below is a broad outline of the RoHS specification:

Make RoHS compliance an inherent part of your design process

As the RoHS deadline looms, companies that have not begun the process of becoming RoHS compliant are behind the curve. The European deadline is July 1, 2006, and other countries follow soon thereafter. Component manufacturers are already discontinuing non-compliant parts, and every electronic product is impacted.

It’s more than a manufacturing problem!

Waiting until the end of the design cycle to assure RoHS compliance might be acceptable for designs currently in production, but for new designs companies must consider RoHS compliance from the very beginning of the design process — at the time of component selection. There is a common misconception that RoHS compliance is a manufacturing problem. "The design is done; all that is necessary now is to select the RoHS compliant parts and build it." It seems simple enough to replace non-compliant parts with compliant replacements, often called BOM scrubbing, but this is a costly approach with a number of potentially fatal problems.

Many designs contain more than 50 percent discrete parts, and these parts tend to get examined for compliance every time. This redundant compliance checking over many designs adds up to a considerable amount of time. Additionally, there's the concern that replacement parts won't be 100 percent compatible. If a component change has a negative effect on the performance of the design, you won't discover the problem until testing the prototype. This results in costly design iterations and PCB re-spins.

Compliance by Design

EMA offers a unique approach. We call it Compliance by Design™. This design methodology incorporates a database containing all component data, including RoHS/WEEE information, into the schematic design tool. This allows an engineer to see part information and RoHS compliance data while selecting parts. Using this design process, an engineer can guarantee that parts used in the design meet RoHS specifications. We've put together the best tools and the most comprehensive RoHS hazardous material content, so your engineering team can make RoHS an inherent part of the design process. We can help you change compliance issues from a time-consuming, complex, costly problem, into a one-time manageable cost.

The RoHS Directive, EU Directive 2002/95/EG, which will go into effect on July 1, 2006 in Europe, mandates that electrical and electronic products (EEE) put in the market within the European Union (EU) shall contain restrictive levels of the following substances:

  1. Lead (Pb)
  2. Cadmium (Cd)
  3. Mercury (Hg)
  4. Hexavalent Chromium (Cr6+)
  5. Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB)
  6. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE)

This Directive, which aims to protect human health and the environment and mirrors the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), applies to electrical and electronic equipment that is dependent on electric or electromagnetic fields in order to work properly. It also applies to some equipment used for the generation, transfer, and measurement of such currents and fields designed for use with a voltage rating not exceeding 1,000 volts for alternating current (AC) and 1,500 volts for direct current (DC).

The RoHS/WEEE Directive does not call for a total elimination of these substances. It mandates that the homogeneous materials within complaint products, or materials that cannot be mechanically disjointed into different materials, contain no more than maximum concentration levels of the six restricted substances.

The definition of homogeneous materials has caused some confusion in the past, but has been clarified in draft guidelines published by the European Commission. A homogeneous material is defined as "a material that cannot be mechanically disjoined in to different materials", such as a plastic (ex. the PVC insulation on insulated copper wire). Components such as capacitors, transistors and semiconductor packages are not "homogenous materials" but will contain several different materials. For example, a semiconductor package will contain at least six homogeneous materials as shown below.

Who will RoHS/WEEE affect?

RoHS/WEEE compliance will have a direct and significant impact on the entire electronics industry. It will directly affect the development and supply chain, such as purchasing, material control, marketing…all the way to R&D.

If you think your company will not be affected by RoHS, please note the following:

  • The state of California is initiating their own version EU’s RoHs Directive, The Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, or SB20 for short, scheduled to take effect January 2007. (20 other states in the United States have bills pending for RoHS-like regulations.)
  • China’s Regulation for Pollution Control of Electronic Products (RPCEP), which is modeled after RoHS and WEEE, has more restrictions than RoHS and is scheduled to go into effect around July 2006.
  • The green procurement practices (JPSSI) in Japan has more stringent mandates than RoHS.
  • Taiwan, Korea, Canada, and Australia are initiating versions of the RoHS directive.

RoHS will affect companies who produce household appliances; IT and telecommunications equipment, lighting equipment, electrical and electronic tools, toys, sports equipment, medical devices, and eventually monitoring and control instruments, which will be regulated.
Examples of industries that will be affected by RoHS legislation:

  • Service Bureaus
  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)
  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Chemical Processing
  • Electronics

Who is responsible and what will be required to comply with RoHS legislation?

Producers of electrical and electronic products (EEE), which include those who:

  • Manufacturer and sell their own brand of products.
  • Re-sell products, produced by others, under their own brand.
  • Import/export products into a member state.

All are responsible for ensuring their products contain information on the levels of the six restricted substances and that they are below the maximum concentration levels.

Producers will be responsible for self-declaring if products comply with the RoHS directives or obtain material declarations or certificates from their suppliers. Although there are no standardized forms, these declarations need to state that materials, parts, and/or components may be used to produce RoHS compliant equipment. The authorities within the EU will conduct routine checks on products. If a product does not comply with the RoHS legislation and producers cannot prove that they have taken reasonable steps to comply, authorities will prevent the sale of equipment and will issue a penalty, which can include fines and/or imprisonment.

In a recent survey conducted by Electronics Supply Manufacturing, ESM, 70% of respondents wanted new part numbers for RoHS/WEEE compliant components. This, along with part availability, will affect purchasing. Purchasing departments should prepare for "end-of-life" notifications for components that suppliers deem as not worth investing in to make them meet the RoHS/WEEE Directives.

Material Control, important for inventory storage, will be affected by physical identification, labeling policies and handling procedures. Inventory storage needs to be considered because, not only should RoHS compliant and non-compliant components be stored separately, but different components need to be stored at different temperatures. For example, lead-free components manufactured with pure tin plating should not be stored for longer than one week at temperatures below 13°C due to a phase transformation known as "Tin Pest" where the tin plating converts to a powdery form that can cause solderability and electrical continuity problems.

 

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