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Understanding the RoHS Compliance for Lead-free Printed Circuit Boards

 May 18, 2016

Lead-free Printed Circuit Boards

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive is a regulatory standard used in the electronics industry. Primarily, the directive restricts the use of hazardous substances in the manufacturing and assembly of printed circuit boards. Lead is the most prominent among these components, as it is believed to be harmful to both humans and the environment. In this blog, we will discuss the RoHS compliances for lead-free PCBs.

Understanding the Situation before the Introduction of Lead-free Printed Circuit Boards

Before the implementation of the RoHS directives, lead solder was widely used in the electronic industry. All PCB manufacturing processes and specifications compliances were created keeping lead solder in mind. The imposing of RoHS standards across the European Union (EU), forced PCB manufacturers and assemblers to change the traditionally used processes, raw materials, components, and equipment. The first change made was the use of lead-free solder alloy.

Why Lead-free Solder is Necessary?

Electronic scrap around the globe accounts for millions of tons every year. Before the imposing of RoHS directives, lead used in the solder joints comprised a major part of this electronic waste. Due to lack of correct processes for handling e-waste, bulk of this material ended up in landfills. Due to acidic rainfall, the lead was absorbed, and got mixed with ground water. The use of this contaminated water by humans led to many health problems. Hence, it became necessary to remove lead from the PCB production process.

The Impact of Lead-free Solder on the PCB Production Process

Today, the electronic industry uses lead-free solder alloy that complies with the RoHS directives. The implementation of the directive has also led to the use specific lead-free components and board finishes. Overall, these changes have resulted in less e-waste, as well as a reduction in the contamination of ground water.

So, the next time you contact a PCB manufacturer or assembly service provider, do not forget to enquire if they provide lead-free PCB manufacturing. This will help you comply with the RoHS directives for electronic products.

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