Precision Plating is Prepared to Meet the Lead-Free Challenge


Written By Vince Azzano

For many decades now the electronics industry has been using tin-lead as an electrodeposited contact finish and solder joint material. Environmental concerns regarding the lead content of electrical and electronic assemblies have been increasing steadily over the past few years and the electronics industry has been pressured to eliminate lead from its products and processes. Even though industry sources report that electronics manufacturing accounts for less than 1% of the total lead used industrially, pressure continues to mount for the restriction and elimination of lead in electronics.

The “lead-free” movement has its most direct origin from enacted and proposed legislation in Japan and Europe. These legislative activities, combined with the growing expectations for corporate environmental responsibility have had a significant effect on manufactures throughout the electronics supply chain. It now appears that the switch to lead-free solders globally is inevitable.

The ban of lead in Europe and the Far East poses a threat to U.S. exports to those markets. Consequently, most of the large U.S. OEMs are working on, or have already enacted their own lead-free strategies. In the end it will be competition not legislation that will force the industry to provide lead-free solder finishes.

Pure tin has been identified as most cost effective and functional alternative to tin-lead for electroplated component finishes. Several major OEM’s both in the international and the domestic market place have chosen pure tin as their standard lead-free electroplated component finish.

For several months Precision Plating has been working on this issue with our plating solution suppliers. Precision now offers lead-free, pure Tin plating finishes, both matte and bright, for those customers that have lead-free requirements. These new, pure tin electroplating chemistries have been specifically formulated to provide a whisker resistant, lead-free deposit that provides a drop in replacement for any applications that are currently utilizing tin-lead.

Many of our customers are just beginning to be exposed to these new requirements. Consequently, we have made ourselves available to field customer questions and inquires regarding lead-free plating alternatives and help educate customers in this area. We have even arranged engineering presentations, at customer locations, for those customers that wish to learn more about lead-free alternatives.

The electronics market place is ever changing and product specifications and requirements are always evolving. Our 100 years of electroplating engineering experience uniquely position us to be ale to respond to these changes. Precision Plating is prepared to meet the lead-free challenge. Call Precision today at 800-621-1292 to discuss your lead free challenges!
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