With the RoHS Directive the big concern for many companies is compliance with the directive. There will likely be a period of time that there will continue to be the requirement in the use of tin/lead solder either because of product exemptions from the RoHS Directive or your customers� end users are located in geographic areas that have no legislation restricting the use of lead in electronics. Electronic hand assembly operations will have to ensure that their material controls are sufficient to produce both tin/lead products and lead-free products concurrently without the possibility of cross-contamination. One question is whether tight controls are necessary for the hand soldering operation and in particular the soldering iron tips. If it is assumed that you will need to have two separate areas for hand soldering, the material and redundant equipment expenses such as soldering irons, tips, hand tools, desks, and microscopes will be costly.
As an example, a company that employs 25 hand-soldering technicians and creates a physical separation between the two processes will not only have to find the additional floor space with all the facilities modifications, but will also have to procure 25 additional work stations and equipment. If it is assumed that the cost for purchasing a complete soldering workstation is approximately $4,500.00 (on the conservative side), then the cost for this effort would be approximately $112,500.00. Even after the completion of the separate work areas, additional controls are required to prevent the inadvertent introduction of the wrong solder to either one of these areas.
BEST has developed a �rinsing� technique for eliminating lead from a soldering iron tip. Results of independent laboratories have shown that this technique is effective in allowing you to �switch� solder materials by using this �rinse� method on the same soldering iron and tip without a risk of lead contamination of the solder joint. This technique, when used properly, will allow you to switch alloys without switching soldering tips.
You can download a copy of this complete study right here.
To view a video demsntration of "rinsing"