One of the common reasons for halogen elimination in electronics is based around the possibility that halogens can form dioxins when that halogenated product is burned. Dioxins are considered to be likely carcinogens. During uncontrolled incineration, the dioxins can be breathed in by any person or animal in close proximity to the fire. In a photograph published last year by National Geographic (shown here), you can see an indivdual in India buring the insulation off of copper wires in an open pit. Copper has value, but most companies won't buy back copper with the insulation on them. Therefore, this individual has decided the easiest way is to just burn it off. The wires most likely have PVC coatings on the outside which does contain the halogen chlorine. By buring the halogenated wires, this person is putting his own life and others nearby at risk. I can't find the source right now, but it was documented that about 40% of dioxins in the air are a result of "backyard" or open pit burning of materials. My personal opinion is that we can eliminate the halogens to reduce dioxin formation, but does that really make these types of burning practices "safe?" I don't think so...
It seems that the topic of Halogen-Free Solder Paste has grown by another leap and bound. The big confusion is what are the definitions of Halogen-Free Solder Paste. I mean, who decides what techniques to use for the determination of Halogen-Free Solder Paste. The different testing and procedures come from many sources, including the IPC and individual Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM's). So, lets take a few minutes and discuss not the techniques used for testing Halogen-Free, but the procedures and reporting specifications. For procedure references, please check original post, Halogen-Free Solder Paste. The first specification that comes my mind, is the IPC's "J-Standards" or J-STD. The section of the J-STD that covers the halogen and halide specifications is J-STD-004. The current revision "a" states that the halogen and halide content is tested on the reflowed solder paste, by Ion Chromatography. Here is the IPC's test method IPC-TM-650 188.8.131.52. As we have discussed in the past, Ion Chromatography is good for testing ionic halides, but may miss the covalent halogens, and of course any volatiles that contain halogens and halides. It is by this method, that some solder paste that are indeed halogen containing, can still advertise themselves as halide-free per J-STD-004. I'm not going into details about the procedure, but it involves a molten solder pot, a Petri dish, and a plastic bag. Sound very scientific to you? Me neither; more like a 9th grade science fair project. By the way, the IPC's definition of Halide-Free is <0.05% (500ppm) total halides. No mention of halogen-free. Another specification that is preferred by some OEM's states that a test board be printed with solder paste, then reflowed and tested by Ion Chromatography. At least this is board-level testing, but the definition of halogen-free versus halide-free remains, as well as their definition of halide-free, <0.09% (900ppm). I have personally tested pastes to this specification, and on one test, knowing that there is >0.5% (5000ppm) total halogens in the sample of the raw flux, have it come back on this test as <0.001% (10ppm). Knowing this is not bad, if only based on the fact that the halide-containing activators may have burned away. Lets get into the big-ticket topic; "no intentionally added halogens". One of the only test methods of determining total halogen content is Parr Oxygen Bomb, then ion chromatography of the ash, on the raw solder paste or flux. This will give you both the halogen and halide content of the flux vehicle. It is no secret that some OEM's looking into truly halogen-free solder pastes, after testing that has showed that their "halide-free" per J-STD-004) pastes that they are using now, is failing due to corrosion or dendritic growth. The statement "no intentionally added halogens" sums it all up, where in reality, only the naturally halogen-containing compounds would be detected, such as the rosin. Even on the post-reflow flux residue, ion chromatography may still miss the covalently bonded halogens, but not oxygen bomb testing. More information may be found at our Online Help: Indium Knowledge Base.
For my first entry, I'd like to say a word about the differences between Halogen-Free and Halide-Free, for both fluxes and solder pastes. The halogens are the group 7a elements on the periodic table. Common halogens are Chlorine and Iodine, both of which are used in our daily lives. The others are Fluorine, Bromine and Astatine. (Astatine, per Wikipedia is a halogen, but is a highly radioactive element has a half-life of 125 nanoseconds to 8.3 hours, depending on the isotope. It is the rarest naturally occurring element with less than one ounce available in the earth's crust at any given time. I don't think you will find this halide or halogen in solder paste paste.) What makes halogens so special is that in their ionic forms (halides), they are all missing a single electron, which it wants REALLY BAD. Making them very active, chemically. But, they form 2 types of compounds, covalently-bonded halogen and ionic-bonded halides. So, solder pastes that my be described as "halide-free" may not be completely devoid of Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, and Iodine. But, only free of ionically bonded halides. The other side of the coin, is Halogen-Free solder pastes and flux. These are "truly" halide-free, and halogen-free. Which means, that under chemical testing, there is NO Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, Iodine or Astatine. Of course there are different ways to test for each, halide-free and halogen-free solder paste and flux, which include Titration, Ion Chromatography, and Oxygen (Parr) Bomb/Ion Chromatography. Here are some details about each (Thank you to Indium's Advanced Assembly Materials Product Manager, Tim Jensen for the details): Titration: Titration can be an effective method for assessing ionic halides within a flux. However, if a solder paste manufacturer decides to use halide activators, they will typically use a covalently bonded halides (which are better for SIR and long term reliability) for no cleans which are not detected through titration. Therefore, a statement such as "halide-free by titration" simply means that there are no ionic halides. In addition, there are many chemicals used in fluxes that can interfere with the test to cause a false positive (i.e. appear as if they are a halide). Ion Chromatography (IC): This is the currently recommended test method used by the IPC J-STD-004. However, it suffers similar challenges to titration in that it is only good at detecting ionic halides. Ion chromatography is also prone to interference, which can cause false positives. Oxygen Bomb / IC: This test method actually burns off all of the organics and Hydrogen parts of the flux. The halides remain in the ash. This ash is dissolved and run through ion chromatography. This method breaks the covalent bonds and minimizes any potential interference to allow IC to give you a true halide reading. This is Indium Corporation's standard method for testing halide-free and halogen-free content. More information may be found at our Online Help: Indium Knowledge Base.
Whether the market is communications, automotive, energy, military, medical or aerospace, choosing the correct solder is essential to making a quality product. A solder joint plays a very important role in an electrical or mechanical assembly. How this solder is selected for this joint is extremely important to the application, so following a guideline will insure that this is accomplished.
Before choosing a solder for an application, the operational or service temperature must be known; i.e. the minimum and maximum temperatures the assembly will see, during testing and in service. Continuous operational temperatures above 125°C will require the use of precious metal solders or hard solders such as Au/Sn, Au/Ge, or Au/Si.
Generally, it is best with soft solders to choose one that will melt at least 50°C higher than the expected service temperature of the assembly. (This includes temperature cycling during test and burn-in). If the difference in temperature (Delta T) between operational and the solidus temperature of the solder is too small, this could result in excessive scavenging, leaching and intermetallic growth. These unwanted conditions could lead to problems and eventual joint failure.
After the correct temperature range for the solder is determined, consideration needs to be given to what metallizations in the joint will interact with the solder.
Metallizations will be addressed next in our series of steps to consider when designing a trouble-free solder joint.
1) Know your assembly
You'd be amazed by the things engineers don't know about the project they are working on. Depending on the method of attachment, key criteria may include clamping pressure, die curvature, lid surface variation, alignment tolerance, burn-in temperature and time, as well as x and y dimensions of the interface. Do you know the junction temperature your device maintains during operation? A better question may be 'Do you know the junction temperature your device maintains after 2 years of operation?'
2) Know your alloy
Although indium and Au/Sn aren't throw-away materials, I advise getting to know the alloy you'll be working with. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a reflow is worth at least two thousand. Before you even start setting up a new solder process, it is a good idea to find a hotplate, some various surface finishes, and whatever flux/alloy system that will be used. It might sound non-productive, but I assure you that you will learn valuable traits of your materials if you just take some time and play.
3) Know your options
Even if you are planning on running the same assembly process for the next 5 years, you should be aware of the other possible processes. You may be able to take a couple assembly tricks from a different process to improve your existing process. Not all processes for thermal assembly require new materials, it's very possible to decrease your thermal resistance and reduce the amount of steps in assembly while not increasing material cost. I know that sounds a little vague – but that's what Technical Support is for. Let us help you improve your application!
Amanda and I recently spoke at the last IMAPS workshop in San Jose last week. The event was a great success. I did however take away one thing especially from a young man that presented at the IMAPS about over clocking. The crowd kind of chuckled at this young engineer about the fact that these guys can burn out a processor in a month. Instantly I wondered if a better thermal interface material would help make a difference. In this particular case this young man presented data on a number of thermal interface materials but did not focus at all on 100% metal or fully metallic thermal interface materials. The range of materials was mostly thermal greases that were tested on an AMD lidded processor. I have since given my card to this young gentleman and I hope that he responds to me about testing some of our metallic thermal interface materials.
It was disappointing to me that some of his experiments seemed too radical to some of the participants, and I can understand why. But I must say that the work that some of these guys are doing is a great way to test interface materials and thermal set-ups in general. My opinion was, this guy has his own thermal test vehicle in his dorm. I think there is something to learn from this group.
An article I just read caught my attention (To see the article which stimulated this entry, click here.).
It outlined the need for reliability in consumer electronics. As a recent purchaser of the X-Box 360 who cried when I saw the "red ring of death", I'm glad that others in the industry are emphasizing the importance of thoroughly testing electronics before releasing them to the public.
For too long, designers have relied on the people who are so intent on purchasing the latest products to market that they are buying products even when they have known reliability issues. This cannot continue because even getting burned once will be enough to turn most consumers to another brand the next time they go to buy.
A particular sticking point for me working on thermal solutions for consumer electronics is that the thermal solution is an afterthought in many designs. Lots of energy is placed at the design stage for the semiconductor and the board layout, but it isn't until all decisions are finalized that thermal needs are considered.
Hopefully this is turning around though. Recently I have seen a lot of inquiries on thermal interface materials for burn-in applications. This is one of the most important reliability tests for electronics. It puts designs through accelerated-lifetime tests for the best performance under worst-case conditions—high temperature and humidity.
Many applications, primarily those for burn-in, require that a single thermal interface material survive multiple insertions. In response to this demand, one focus in our thermal lab has been testing many different materials in these applications. The outcome has been that we have proven our metal interface materials capable of withstanding thousands of insertions. The best thermal interface materials we have found for these applications were those leaving little to no residue and those which were inherently stiff. These materials were the most robust due to their low resistance and stiffness. Soft interfaces such as pure indium provided the best thermal performance between intertions 50-500, but were not as reliable as others long-term because of its malleability. Indium will retain its compressed image even after it has been removed from the chip it was compressed on.
image courtesy of affordablebeds.com
I just received an email invitation to a webinar. It is promised that I will learn (quoted):
How B2B marketers and marketing budgets specifically have been affected by the worldwide recession
How much of marketing budgets are allocating their budget among digital media options
How to re-examine your own spending based on what the rest of the B2B world is doing
It struck me kind of funny that this was it. It wasn't the intro of the webinar, it was THE webinar.
Now, I don't mind knowing these things. In fact, they could be parts of a valuable baseline of information. But, if you are to become a B2B Marcom leader, then you aren't being paid to be average. You aren't supposed to emulate typical B2B Marketers - you're supposed to blow them all away!
The SMART voice in my head tells me that, when such a seminar is given, EVERYONE learns the info ... and the average shifts. Most people move in a pack and remain average. I am not paid to be average. So, it continually comes down to:
- listen to this "average" information - to know where the baseline is. Then, vow to step far away from it.
- cultivate your own "above average" practice with your trusted network of B2B Marcom experts. Implement it and distinguish your organization.
How do you identify leading-edge Marcom gurus, experts, and creators, so you can assemble your B2B Marcom Dream Team? I look for people who are in the trenches, actually implementing ideas and seeing the results. These people also have to be extremely curious, open-minded, and energetic. They also seek information and education constantly. And they are not afraid to stumble. They are comfortable with tripping and falling from time to time - and they never consider these events to be "failures" (watch a trick skiier or skateboard rider practicing. It looks like they are a mess ... far from it.). In fact, these people might actually scare you from time to time. They have far out notions, and try very "interesting" things. Pay attention! Sometimes these people crash, other times they invent something amazing. When they do crash, they are "failing forward". You'd think that no one wants to fail, that everyone actually prefers the simpler and less painful, "forward". Not true. True leaders need to know where the boundaries and borders are. They NEED to define the limits - and that requires the occasional crash.
So, be careful with these seminars and training opportunities. They clearly have a value, but they can lull you into a sense of complacency if you start believing that you've learned the golden nugget or been to the mountain top. Bottom line, "forward" is critical - but standing above the average is mandatory. So, "get" what everyone else is doing, but go far beyond.
Identify the opportunities to acquire "baseline" info - and use them appropriately. More importantly, cultivate your cadre of Marcom gurus and, together, get all messed up creating the new leading edge.
The economy is really putting the kibosh on travelling, attending seminars, and all sorts of spending. But, is staying in the office, burning the midnight oil the only B2B Marcom alternative? No! The show must go on! How?
Virtual Trade Shows!
The following crossed my desk just this week (kinda' tells us what's hot, right?):
The Rising Tide of Virtual EventsWith the economy continuing in a downward spiral, many companies and trade groups are turning to virtual events, whether for large, outward-facing shows or internal meetings, as a cost cutting tool. According to an ON24, Inc. survey, of the 10,000 enterprise executives asked about their events and attendance in 2009, 42% said that the economy would decrease their company's participation in physical trade shows compared to 2008 (20% by at least half) and 64% said that they would have fewer or no (22%) physical sales kick offs.More from VirtualWorldNews:http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2009/01/76-of-enterprise-executives-predict-rise-in-virtual-events-for-2009.html
ON24 just completed a survey of more than 10,000 enterprise executives which polled the anticipated use in 2009 of "in-person" trade shows, conventions and seminars versus virtual events such as webinars and virtual shows. The survey showed significant growth for virtual events in 2009, with physical events projected to decline more than 40%.
76% of the survey participants said their companies have already begun using virtual events or plan to begin using them in 2009 to supplement some of their physical events.
75% appreciate that there is no travel required when an event is conducted virtually.
64% value the ability to attend a virtual session on their own time schedules.
58% found it useful to be able to forward to their colleagues the virtual sessions that they thought would be of interest.
Virtual PCB, the industry's first virtual trade show and conference for PCB
designers, fabricators and assemblers, will be held February 24-25, 2009.· Participate in live group chats with industry experts· Attend webinars· Access targeted technical information
I have been making videos and video ads for a while now, so I get the drill. The next version should be a no-brainer, right? So, off I go to Singapore (participating in Semicon Singapore). While there I planned to grab the raw video to use for my next video ad. I secure the video crew, arm them with the storyboard and examples of the finished product. All is well.
My second leg of the trip had me in Hanoi for Nepcon Vietnam. As I watched a local video crew interviewing people at the show I thought, "Hey, I'll make a commercial here, too!" So, I recruited the crew and off we went. All is well.
So, what went wrong?
- I never made plans to get the Singapore video to my US-based post-production team. So, on the fly, I tried hooking both sides together. FTP address here, a different FTP address there. Format issues, file compressing problems, no familiarity with each other, and you guessed it: it is taking FOREVER to get the video into the hands of my post-production team. I finally resorted to having the video guy put it onto a DVD and mail it to the USA. How archaic!!! This story is still not done yet.
- Being semi-burned (at that point I didn't know things were going to get worse) by the portion of this nightmare that was unfolding while still on the road, I took the actual raw video tape, in hand, from Vietnam to home. I personally handed it to my post-production team. They emailed me and said, this is in PAL! We need to get it converted to NTSC. No big deal, but we are now searching for someone locally who can do this for us. Geez!
So, I've made a B2B Marcom mess of things. Nothing that I can't dig my way out of, but time is the critical element in most transactions - and these projects are lasting about 4x longer than they should - a disaster!!! And I know better!
The moral of the story, sometimes it LOOKS easy, but that is when a well-oiled machine swings into action. When we are throwing things together on the fly, or using new/unfamiliar talent, or when we cross technology borders, we need to slow down and think harder, plan better. I didn't do that well-enough and I am now paying the humiliating price. Aaarrgghhhh!!!
Every project manager, marketing specialist, and tech support leader is walking around with at least a handful of potential B2B Marcom projects in their head.
Before any of them get any further, I'd like to ask them to stop. In fact, I did just that in a meeting today. I had Indium Corporation's blogging team in a pizza frenzy while we were reviewing our blogs, other peoples' blogs, and the state of the blog art.
Our blog team consists of some really plugged in and knowledgable people. They are the ones who devise, create, and finalize many of our pieces of literature and communications projects. After a brief discussion of how and where our target audiences look for answers and info, we all agreed that the answer is the internet. It seems preposterous to imagine an engineer waiting for his copy of Circuits Assembly Magazine to arrive in the mail, hoping it might contain an answer to a burning question. People turn to the web for fast help. We want to be that help.
So, we are officially charged with directing ALL our B2B Marcom thoughts regarding literature, brochures, exhibits, etc. to the digital format first. We'll let the hardcopy stuff come later. This is a flip of the old way of business. Frankly, it is a bit overdue.
Web first, hardcopy second.
I am not down on, or against, print media. It has its place and is very valuable. Specifically, I really value Circuits Assembly Magazine. What I am changing is the mindset at project onset. We have to dream and create for the web (primary audience) and let the hard copy follow.
Video, video, video!!! We're hearing this word several times per day lately.
Who can deny that compelling video really tells a story (just ask anyone who is glued to a screen)? But who can honestly say that most B2B Marcom video is compelling? I walked a trade show (Semicon West 2007, in which we exhibited) and started counting flat panel displays. I stopped when I got to 100 (didn't take too long) and I noted how many had an audience. After I saw 100 screens, I noted only two that had even a single person watching them!
It is my goal to meaningfully engage my audience and draw them in. Video offers an enhanced ability to do so (especially when compared to static posters/graphics). But producing a true and compelling video can be very expensive. For my first experimental foray into exhibition video, I wanted to keep the costs low. I turned to some trusted partners and arrived at a solution: motion graphics.
Motion graphics proved to be a low cost (nearly the same cost as posters) approximation of video. So, we used existing artwork, the "Ken Burns Effect", and some fancy intros/outros, and produced Indium's first exhibit "video", which was unveiled at IPC Midwest (Schaumburg, IL) last week and at SMTAI this week (Orlando, FL).
At the SMTAI show I asked my cynical Sales and Product Management teams to tell me their opinions of the new "videos". They loved them. They said that our exhibit looked more interesting and alluring than ever. Additionally, they used the graphics to depict certain products and properties to our customers.
Consider motion graphics as a first step into exhibit video if you want to be cautious and spend money carefully, or if you don't have a video-worthy subject.
I want to thank Alen Smajic and Claude Schuyler of The Paige Group for creating the motion graphics you see on ths page, which we used at the shows.
Vlogs (video blogs) are the simple combination of everything bloggy with video. Sounds easy, but it can be pretty rough.
On top of The 4 Ps of Blogging you will require some other resources. But first, a review of the "4 Ps of Blogging":
- POINT: if your blog doesn't have a specific point (purpose), then don't even start. "Being pointless" can be your point (that's been argued). But I don't think that "muse" will last too long.
- PASSION: if you don't have a burning passion about the topic, then don't bother.
- PERSONALITY: if you don't have the personality for blogging, then find something else to do with your time.
- PERSEVERANCE: if you won't be able to stick with it once the blogging becomes routine, after you've battled with writer's block, after numerous distractions beckon, then find a new hobby.
Moving on from there, to become a vlogger, a blogger will need to (to varying degrees):
1)account for any editing they may want to do prior to uploading (skills, software, patience, etc.).
2)obtain extra time to do this work.
3) master a new suite of software and hardware
4)provide the muse, the topic of your vlogging inspiration.
5)hone their artistic skills. After all, the lighting, camera angle, audio, and timing don't frequently fall into place for us, do they?
Don't be deterred, but don't launch into vlogging ill-prepared. You want your first experiences to be rewarding.
Dr. Ron Lasky and I presented at the American Marketing Association's blogging seminar in Boston, MA today (image is of Dana VanDen Heuvel, myself, Toby Bloomberg, and Dr. Lasky). While there I spoke with IBM's Sher Taton (corporate HQ, Armonk, NY). She shared that she had been mentally developing "the 4Ps of Blogging" (four Ps, four P's, 4 P's), but that she was stuck. We discussed our views on exactly what was important and I was able to add the elusive 4th "P". We agreed that the collaboration was one of many great things to arise from this great seminar.
So, what are the 4 Ps of blogging?:
*point: if your blog doesn't have a specific point (purpose), then don't even start
*passion: if you don't have a burning passion about the topic, then don't bother
*personality: if you don't have the personality for blogging, then find something else to do with your time
*perseverance: if you won't be able to stick with it once the blogging becomes routine, after you've battled with writer's block, after numerous distractions beckon, then find a new hobby
There will be much more on this later, but I wanted to capture this awesome development on the very same day that it occurred. Yes! I have the passion.
Thanks Sher - what a great concept.
From One Engineer to Another®
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