Lead-Free Solder


RoHS lead-free solder has created electronics with a limited lifespan. What were these idiots thinking? They apparently lacked the technical knowledge or did not research to determine actual effect a material has on the environment or consequences of banning certain materials. As a result electronic manufacturing has been forced to produce inferior products with lead-free solder. There is no replacement for lead-based solder as reliable as lead-based solder. Lead-free solder is inferior and deteriorates over time increasing the possibility of failure as equipment ages.

Anything electronic manufactured after 2003 falls under RoHS. Electronics manufactured after 2003 will become unreliable as they age. Vacuum tube equipment is expected to and should last for decades. If wired using lead-free solder, amplifiers older than ten years will become unreliable as they age. To avoid the RoHS syndrome the DIY home builder should wire projects using lead-based solder.

In 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a report, "Solders in Electronics: A Life-Cycle Assessment Summary," in which it "...assessed the environmental life-cycle impacts of selected lead-free solders as alternatives to tin-lead solder. The analysis also provides an assessment of the recyclability and leachability of the solders" (Ref. 2). The study considers leaded and lead-free solders from ore mining and waste recycling through refining and use to disposal and recycling again. Results show mostly small differences between the environmental impact of leaded and lead-free solders. After all, tin-copper, tin-silver-copper, and bismuth-tin-silver solders all require metal-ore mining and refining, fabrication, and disposal. And lead mining would continue because 80 percent of the metal still goes into vehicle batteries. I would bet less than one percent has gone into solders.
ECN Magazine, 12/28/2011
by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor


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