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Old 03-26-2008, 03:35 PM   #1
weirdlookinguy
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Default What is RoHS?

I noticed there's very little info about RoHS here on badcaps.net, so I thought I'd start a thread about it. If you have any comments or info you want to add, please do so.

What is RoHS?
RoHS stands for Restriction on Hazardous Substances. It was adopted by the European Union on February 2003, and was put into effect on July 1, 2006. RoHS bans the use of the following 6 substances in concentrations higher than 0.1%:

1. Lead
2. Mercury
3. Cadmium
4. Hexavalent chromium (chromium xxx or Cr6+)
5. Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)
6. Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)

RoHS does not apply to Control and Monitoring Equipment, Medical Equipment, and Military Equipment.

What does this mean, and how does it affect me?
Solder has traditionally been a mixture of Lead and Tin, commonly referred to as SnPb solder or 60/40 solder. Tin (Sn), is a metal that often grows small "whiskers". The exact reason why is not known, and such whiskers can grow very long and cause short circuits inside electronics, causing failure. The addition of Lead to Tin stopped these whiskers, so solder has always been a mixture of Tin and Lead. When RoHS was introduced, the Tin "whisker" problem was re-discovered. Take a look at this picture:


As you can see, Tin Solder without any lead in it has a tendency to grow "whiskers" which can cause short circuits and failure.

RoHS bans lead.

That means any RoHS compliant product (the majority of what's out there today) will use lead-free solder which has a tendency to grow whiskers.

What where those idiot politicians smoking?
The world may never know. Apart from the issue of whiskers, lead free solder also has a 260°C melting point instead of SnPb solder's 220-235°C melting point. This means companies have to spend lots of $$$ to upgrade their production lines, and the introduction of RoHS drove many small businesses bankrupt because they could not afford to retool their entire production line. Tin solder is also much harder than SnPb solder, which means it can crack more easily and lead to bad solder joints. Sn solder can also warp PCBs, and is harder to solder with. SnPb solder tends to flow onto the contact points on PCBs, making soldering easy, while Sn solder does not do the same. In addition, mixing SnPb solder with Sn solder can lead to solder joints cracking. All this to save a little lead? Electronics failing left and right and filling landfills is a lot more damaging to our planet than a little lead, but you know how politicians are. If it will help make them look like they give a shit about the environment, they're all for it.

Sources: Wikipedia, Google.

Last edited by weirdlookinguy; 03-26-2008 at 03:38 PM..
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Old 03-27-2008, 12:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

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Old 03-27-2008, 10:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Well i think we are living a so called "throw away" lifestyle, where things are either produced to break after some time (to help maintaining the "more growth is necessary" myth) or are simply that poorly designed and produced, that there is no need for an artificially designed weak link.

So what? the main staple of products especially electronic consumer devices will never get repaired so it is expected that they in either way go straight into the landfill / incinerating facility.

From this point of view it does not make any difference, if a appliance is failing due to bad caps, whiskers or an intentionally present weak link.
But in case of lead free, at least the lead is not distributed into the environment.
And sure, the only thing which is counting here is the big picture, and be assured that neither badcaps.net nor any other crowd of similar minded people do change anything on this.

And in case you missed it, at least the EU bureaucrats does no like small companies. In fact they are doing anything they can do, to destroy small and mid size companies. And the government, at least in Germany does the same (but they need someone to blame for it - the EU).
They do this by introducing new standards like RoHs and GMP (good manufacturing practices ) rules.
They certainly know, that most family businesses and even mid sized companies can`t afford the implementation of those regulation.

AFAIK this is not much different in the US and most other industrialized & so called democratic countries.
(well, the FDA does actually mandate GMP rules for supplement manufacturers, and they even precisely estimated the number of businesses they want to put out of their way. This has nothing to do with consumer safety, it is only a way to shut down companies they don`t like ).

Last edited by gonzo0815; 03-27-2008 at 10:54 AM..
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Old 03-31-2008, 01:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

i thought to be RoHS compliant, the initial manufacture just had to be in the guidelines. Some companies use silver solder for initial manufacture. This removes the whisker problem. Repair with a low lead solder is still done because silver solder requires a slightly higher heat which can be damaging if reheating is required. Silver solder also makes it a little more difficult to remove parts, as the component leads tend to "stick" in the holes. However, light mixing of lead solder with silver solder often doesn't lead to cracking or cold solder connections.

It's a shame that they had to completely remove lead on initial manufacture. i think more research should have been done. Fluorescent lamps contain mercury, but because they save electricity they are deemed "safe levels". I hate political contradictions.
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Old 04-01-2008, 11:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

going a bit of the topic but I think still kin to it

Quote:
Fluorescent lamps contain mercury, but because they save electricity they are deemed "safe levels".
humm interesting point.

when you consider they are now trying to ban incandescent lamps in favor of of using compact fluro's seems they do contain mercury.
(not that I know what environmental threat an incandescent bulb poses with disposal, I would figure less then a compact anyway but could be worng?)

oh and the components that needs to be used (produced) in the manufacture of them
(think we had a discussion on this somewhere)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp

So it a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath tube water, isn't it

yeah I think its a bit knee jerk reaction and not enough forward thinking has been applied in the over all picture

Gonzo that is really a big worry...this is really where a government should stand behind the small and medium size local companies by offering long term loans whatever to help support them in change over

Agree Fat chance, and the multinationals just roll on and over whomever is in there way...nice "green" way to knock off the competition to any all and all countries determent

Really just playing the Devils Advocate there
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Old 04-02-2008, 02:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Regarding mercury:

http://www.naturalnews.com/022886.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/021907.html

Somehow strange why mercury is ok and lead is bad. But ATM there is no alternative to incandescent lamps other then compact fluros today.
May be we have some super bright LED`s w/o heat issues and a wider beam angel in a few years. But today i think LED`s aren't suited as an simple replacement.
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:02 PM   #7
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

The comment about the lamps was just a metaphor. Following on-topic, lead DOES have heavy meatal properties that make it toxic. Silver does too, believe it or not, but it's toxicity is much lower. It requires higher heat, which allows manufacturers use it only on initial soldering of a board. Usually the main soldering when the board goes over a wave of solder. If any repair is required, it is still done with a lead solder although it's probably a <20% solder. Some manufacturers ay a board can only have so much rework before they decide it's scrap because of hassels from environmental groups. So these boards just get tossed in a dumpster. A few places recycle for the copper, but it's rare. Even if they are recycled for copper, the epoxy-fiber board is still dumped in the trash or incinerated. Smooth move "green freaks".

I'm all for lower lead level solders and the use of silver solder on initial production, but sometimes I feel environmental groups have pushed a little too far.

Keep in mind, that the use of silver solder also has better conductivity than lead. It is merely a side effect from the use, but it's one thing that ended up somewhat decent in this whole fiasco of "being green".
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:51 PM   #8
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Interesting links thanks Gonzo

Thing is here (Australia) the humble incandescence bulb is being BANNED
(well at lest that was the game plan awhile back further reading see rod's page on it here not final comment as he says on it and open to your own conclusions and information you may have on it)

LED lighting is a good option
(if as you say the problems can be over come more generally.)
there is one company I have seen advertising them as a down lights replacements but how well they work or what issues they really exhibit I have no idea Here

I agree too the less lead the better in the environment,
is a good start but the whole picture to be considered.

there is also another environmental thing that has yet to fully see the limelight as far as the general public is concerned I think and that is plastics and endocrine disruptors
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocrine_disruptor

RoHs is just part of the larger umbrella of going Green.

we actually do have thread on this Nightmare after RoHs

Doramius you do find the subject tends to drift around the topic here
admittedly on a lot of forums it would get you sin binned for being a bad boy

Still the title is RoHs so heres a some of links on it

Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive

It does (according to wiki) include Mercury

Quote:
Each European Union member state will adopt its own enforcement and implementation policies using the directive as a guide.

RoHS is often referred to as the lead-free directive, but it restricts the use of the following six substances:

1. Lead
2. Mercury
3. Cadmium
4. Hexavalent chromium (chromium xxx or Cr6+)
5. Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)
6. Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)

PBB and PBDE are flame retardants used in several plastics
http://www.rohs.eu/english/index.html

http://www.rohsguide.com/

http://www.pb-free.info/laymans_terms.htm



cheers
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Old 04-03-2008, 12:04 AM   #9
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Oh BTW I have no involvement or know of the company selling the LED lights
it was a link I found on a quick search
it is posted as reference only
(not sure if that the same mob I've seen advertised in the mags I read)

Just so we are clear on that OK
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Old 04-03-2008, 12:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

I wish they'd ban plastic.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7314240.stm

I watched a documentry, every time they cleaned up an hour or so later a small mountain ton's of disposed plastic piles up here again in an endless loop that all the birds, millions of them feed to their young. Sceientists couldn't find one bird that didn't contain plastic.

I think I may have uncovered the conspiracy on ROHS:

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Old 04-03-2008, 02:27 AM   #11
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

LOL Tin Whiskers

Just on Leds for lighting

http://www.spectrumlighting.com.au/index.html

I knew we had LED torches bit of other stuff
but looking here it seems quite a bit is going on that way
(more then I thought, Street lights!)

I don't know what the real issues are as it stands now but they are defiantly being produced for lighting applications...cost of course is another BIG factor I suppose as far as common use may be concerned.

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Old 04-03-2008, 06:02 AM   #12
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizzycapola
I wish they'd ban plastic.
back in school I had a chemistry teacher who got all sentimental when it came to plastic. it really broke his heart that people actually BURN fuel oil instead of making it to "beautiful things such as plastics".
he was a funny old man. but I think he's making a point there.

a few thoughts on LED lighting:
things have changed a lot in the last five years. efficiency has been pushed up to 100lm/W and beyond (AFAIK you can't go higher with any other technology, at least not in non-industrial applications) and warm white LEDs have been developed (although their efficiency is a bit lower than the cool white ones').

life time is no issue as long as thermal design is done properly. if the emitters aren't pushed too hard, you can achieve 100.000hrs and more with only little degradation.

if you look for commercial products, you might have a hard time since the solid state lighting market still is a slow one (this is changing, though).
there are many products on the market that still use Luxeons (I or III) which are pretty ineffective by today's standards.
and the good stuff is usually a bit overpriced.

if you have the time, build your own.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:00 AM   #13
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Regarding using low lead containing solder, RoHS requires a lead content lower or equal to 120ppm.
I am not sure, if you can do some soldering work with a 20% lead alloy while not reaching that levels.

I am sure, that LED has greatly improved and it will do so in future. Any way, not quite sure what RoHS would say about GaAs. Arsenic highly toxic too.

Silver is not really toxic to human beings, the only problem which would occur would be blue or gray skin.
But sure it belongs into the class of heavy metals like copper too.

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Old 04-03-2008, 10:57 AM   #14
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzo0815
Regarding using low lead containing solder, RoHS requires a lead content lower or equal to 120ppm.
I am not sure, if you can do some soldering work with a 20% lead alloy while not reaching that levels.
120ppm is related to the percentage of lead in solder on the entire board. Companies (obviously not including China and a few other nations that don't seem to recognize or have such laws) will often use silver solder which has no lead. When rework is done, there is a limit to how much rework is done, before there is potential to damage the board. The percentage of lead used will still be below acceptible levels. The test they do for lead levels is where they take the board and drop it in a bath. The liquid litterally washes the board, and then is drained and checked for contaminate levels.

In regards to silver, Toxic may not necessarily kill you. There's a potential of death, cancer, deformities, sterility...even skin color changes. Silver can be toxic in larger levels. Mercury is toxic, but several of us lder guys used to go to science class and hold mercury from thermometers in our hands.
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:23 PM   #15
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Well, RoHS bans Hexavalent chromium as well due to its high toxicity: it was used in anti-rfi paints in old AT cases (perhaps in some recent too).

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Old 04-03-2008, 06:05 PM   #16
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Quote:
GaAs. Arsenic highly toxic too.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GaAs

Dont givem Ideas Gonzo

yes I'am joking but like you are correct, where to you begin and end.

Quote:
used to go to science class and hold mercury from thermometers in our hands.
So did I when I was at school

cheers

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Old 04-03-2008, 06:12 PM   #17
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

here on safety from wiki but remember nothing is totally complete

Quote:
Safety

The toxicological properties of gallium arsenide have not been thoroughly investigated. On one hand, due to its arsenic content, it is considered highly toxic and carcinogenic. On the other hand, the crystal is stable enough that ingested pieces may be passed with negligible absorption by the body. When ground into very fine particles, such as in wafer-polishing processes, the high surface area enables more reaction with water releasing some arsine and/or dissolved arsenic. The environment, health and safety aspects of gallium arsenide sources (such as trimethylgallium and arsine) and industrial hygiene monitoring studies of metalorganic precursors have been reported recently in a review.[6]
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:44 PM   #18
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

gaasfets are too expensive to eat so i am not going to worry!
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Old 02-22-2009, 07:21 PM   #19
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzo0815

And in case you missed it, at least the EU bureaucrats does no like small companies. In fact they are doing anything they can do, to destroy small and mid size companies.
Sounds like when Bush was the president in the US.

And Orrin Hatch.
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Old 02-22-2009, 07:33 PM   #20
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Default Re: What is RoHS?

Also there's BeO as well. Used as insulating and thermal conductive for seminconductors. Powdered is poisious. Only seen in high power stuff like power line, industrial stuff. Not in consumer/computer stuff.

What about one that blew magic smoke released when GaAs semiconductors blows?

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