pB-Free: The Craze Has Begun
Motivated by reports of
lead leaching into ground water from landfills, some manufacturers of electronic
equipment have begun using lead-free solder processes. Japan is at the forefront
with a year 2003 target for 100% lead-free soldering. Europe is targeting 2006,
and N. America has a voluntary compliance date of 2004. Studies in N. America show
no increase in ground water lead content after 50 years, but Japan claims increases.
The most common lead-free solder in use today is Sn-3Ag-0.5Cu, which melts at 219°C.
63Sn-37Pb melts at 183°C. Paradoxically, net environmental impact could be worse
for lead-free due to the increased fuel-fired energy required to run oven soldering
equipment! Some analysts predict the industry will abandon lead-free solder by 2008,
due to minimal environmental impact and much more difficult processes and costs.
Storage batteries use 79.0% of all lead mined, while electronics solder uses only