There is an increasing demand in replacing tin-lead (Sn/Pb) solders with lead-free solders in the electronics industry due to health and environmental concern. The European Union recently passed a law to ban the use of lead in electronic products. The ban will go into effect in July of 2006. The Japanese electronics industry has worked to eliminate lead from consumer electronic products for several years. Although currently there are no specific regulations banning lead in electronics devices in the United States, many companies and consortiums are working on lead-free solder initiatives including Intel, Motorola, Agilent Technologies, General Electric, Boeing, NEMI and many others to avoid a commercial disadvantage. The solder joints reliability not only depends on the solder joint alloys, but also on the component metallization and PCB metallization. Reflow profile has significant impact on lead-free solder joint performance also because it influences wetting and microstructure of the solder joint. Majority researchers use temperature cycling for accelerated reliability testing since the solder joint failure mainly comes from thermal stress due to CTE mismatch. A solder joint failure could be caused by crack initiation and growth or by macroscopic solder facture. There are conflicting views of the reliability comparison between lead-free solders and tin-lead solders. This paper first reviews lead-free solder alloys, lead-free component finishes, and lead-free PCB surface finishes. Tin whisker issue is also discussed. Then the lead-free solder joint testing methods are presented; finite element modeling of lead-free solder joint reliability is reviewed; and experimental data comparing lead-free and tin-lead solder joint reliability are summarized. Finally the paper gives perspectives of transitions to a totally lead-free manufacturing.


Industrial Engineering | Manufacturing



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