Australian and New Zealand manufacturers wishing to sell electrical and electronic products in Europe should be aware of restrictions now in force on the use of certain hazardous substances in welding materials, including lead.
The RoHS directives, in force from July this year, affect products either manufactured or sold in Europe, says the Australian operation of domnick hunter, which is one of the world’s leading producers of on-site generators of nitrogen used in cleaner welding processes for electrical and electronic components and dry storage of these components.
According to domnick hunter, the potential health hazards of lead have been understand for many years but, until this directive was proposed, lead was still widely used in the electronics industry. Electronic equipment manufacturers now adjusting to the change have turned to new alloys with higher liquidizing temperatures.
In order to standardise the industry, it is recommended that a tin silver copper alloy be used. The liquidus temperature of this new alloy is higher than lead-based materials (in the region 220°C), which can cause oxidation that weakens solder joints and results in unreliable components.
A solution is to solder in nitrogen, which gives an inert atmosphere that displaces oxygen. Soldering in nitrogen greatly improves joint quality, and it also increases wetting force and speed for stronger joints that have minimal voids.
MAXIGAS from domnick hunter is a range of nitrogen generators that produce nitrogen gas from a normal compressed air supply. MAXIGAS operates on the pressure swing adsorption (PSA) principle to separate larger nitrogen molecules from the air stream.
With this system nitrogen is available on-demand 24/7 without the risk of nitrogen supply failures holding up production.
MAXIGAS is a cost-effective alternative to other gas sources with fewer on-going costs such as refills, order processing or delivery charges. MAXIGAS is also safer than storing or handling high pressure containers. The system is completely modular, so extra banks of generators can be added as necessary.
domnick hunter specialises in the manufacture of compressed air treatment equipment including performance filtration that gives absolute particle retention and desiccant dryers than can reach pressure dewpoints of up to -70°C.
Several major electronics companies in Europe are already using nitrogen in their processes this can be expected to become part of an international trend towards eliminating hazards and optimizing safety. Because of the advantages offered by MAXIGAS, domnick hunter envisages substantial growth both among companies exporting to Europe and among those who wish to attain top world standards. domnick hunter’s air treatment technology gives electronics manufacturers top quality clean dry nitrogen and is a cost-effective solution available.
In addition to widespread metal processing applications (including lead-free soldering), nitrogen is used in a variety of delicate soldering operations, such as reflow soldering, selective soldering and integrated circuit packaging. The gas is also used for dry storage of replacement parts that need to be available for the lifetime of finished products, a technology that is particularly important to the military, aerospace and automotive industries.