The effort to adopt lead-free electronic assembly is being driven by a combination of environmental considerations, government legislation, and the marketing advantages of lead-free packages, according to a report by market research firm Frost and Sullivan.
The report, titled "World Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Roadmap," noted that lead-free solder paste is not only technologically feasible but in most cases provides equivalent reliability to eutectic-based solder paste, according to analyst Raman Monga. But long-term reliability of some solder alloys, such as tin-silver-copper, has not yet been established.
Monga said additional process development is needed for lead-free assembly to grow in usage. In particular, establishment of better thermal profiles for the products being processed will be required, he noted.
Consumer electronics was the main market driver for lead-free electronics, particularly in Japan where lead-free solder paste consumption is highest, the report said. On the legislative front, the main driver is European legislation outlawing the use of lead and other hazardous substances in a number of electronic products beginning July 2006.