Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Soldering & Surface Mount Technology, Volume 20, Issue 3
For many people involved in the world of electronics manufacturing, the transition to lead-free assembly is something that has been and gone since, at the time of writing, it is almost two years since the RoHS Directive came into force in Europe. Consequently, there was a frenetic level of activity around the world to gain a better understanding of the impact the use of the new lead-free solders and assembly processes and other materials would have on process yields, costs and overall product reliability in anticipation of this transition. In the first few years of this new century, there were many people who were forecasting the dire consequences of giving up our predilection for lead in electronics. However, with the benefit of hindsight, we can now see that, for most companies and organisations involved in electronics assembly, the issues predicted did not materialise at anything like the levels anticipated. Indeed, having been involved directly in helping a number of companies to convert their assembly to lead-free, I know that there was often no choice other than to achieve a rapid and efficient transition to lead-free. This is exactly what was achieved and usually without too much difficulty. That said, there was always going to be a need for a more substantial body of research work to be undertaken that would examine in detail the impacts of the multi-faceted changes that were needed for this transition to be successful in the longer term. The fact that the industry had moved from what was a fairly well characterised and limited range of solders and processing conditions meant that there would be a huge amount of work to be undertaken to extend our knowledge of the metallurgy and reliability of the new lead-free systems, so products could be built that met the stringent performance requirements demanded for many applications.
Thus, while the industry has had no choice but to convert much of its production to lead-free in order to comply with the legislation, the research work to build up our knowledge base seems set to continue for some time to come. This is indeed evidenced by the content of this issue of Soldering & Surface Mount Technology (SSMT), which has four of its six papers covering aspects of lead-free research. Perhaps not surprisingly, two of the papers cover the complex area of solder joints, the formation and properties of their intermetallic compounds and their subsequent influence on reliability. The third paper covers a study of the lead-free reliability at the board level for a variety of package types and the fourth paper examines the important aspects for lead-free production of solder paste printing. Along with these four papers, there are also contributions covering the properties of silver thick film pastes for low-temperature co-fired ceramics and a study outlining the development of a quality control tool for the characterisation of solder pastes.
This is the largest issue of SSMT that has been published since I took on the role of Editor and I am pleased to be able to report that for future issues, we have a strong pool of submitted papers that are proceeding through the peer review process. My personal mission is to enhance this process further by ensuring that we keep exposing every paper to a stringent review, while operating in a way that is both critical and highly efficient. To that end, I again invite interested subject matter experts to join our world-wide review team. As always, I welcome your comments suggestions and feedback and you can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org