Components can be one of the biggest headaches in electronics manufacturing. First, EMS companies and OEMS must have accurate inventories indicating whether shelved components contain lead or are lead free. In addition, it is imperative to work with suppliers closely to make all possible efforts to make sure that components are marked correctly as lead free or leaded upon arrival at the facility. Incoming test may be advisable.

Components should have traceable marking indicating lead-free/RoHS compliance. In addition, new supplier part numbers should be assigned for lead-free parts. Device datasheets should clearly indicate the termination solder composition, maximum component temperature rating, reflow profile limits, and Moisture Sensitivity Level (MSL).

Mixing components can lead to significant process problems as issues with moisture and temperature need to be adjusted in engineering when assembling in a lead-free environment. Lead-free components are not “drop-in” solutions. Engineering must consider higher temperatures, reflow vs. wave soldering, new defects that may manifest and mixed alloy compatibility.