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  • EEVblog #352 – Tin Whiskers 101

    Posted on September 17th, 2012 EEVblog 5 comments

    Sorry, this video has been removed at the request of the organisers.
    A even shorter edited version of the video may return in due course.

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    5 responses to “EEVblog #352 – Tin Whiskers 101” RSS icon

    • Really good introduction.

      Too many times I’ve heard “RoHS? Tin Whiskers!” as an argument to not stray from the traditional lead/tin solder.

      Or more cynically, “RoHS? That’s a way to make our electronics die out in 5 years due to tin whiskers so we’d have to buy all new euqipment”.

      (Of course, it seems no one realizes it’s been around for decades, or that the research they’re pointing to predates RoHS legislation. Or more importantly, lead-free doesn’t mean “tin only”).

    • Thanks very much to Dave and all the other people who helped create this video and make it available. I hope it helps people to work together to create more balanced and moderate engineering practices and regulations.

      I have mixed feelings about RoHS. On one hand, I like how it is helping to make technology less damaging to people and the planet. However, it is just a “version 1″, and is too simple and too extreme in its limitations, and in ways may be doing much more harm than good.

      Rather than simply banning a list of substances, I think it would be a better attitude to try to create an engineering culture that is mindful of environmental and health issues, and allow some flexibility for engineers to use what they think is the best overall solution for their particular application.

      • The problem with that is well, it didn’t work – we had the 80s and 90s where environmental concerns were king and very few people did anything about it.

        Seems legislation is the only way to counter the fact that businesses are lazy, and they’ll continue doing the same old thing the same old way because it works and is well tested.

        When you’re an engineer, you have to balance the need to be mindful of the environment with the need for your company to release the product _now_ and for a certain price. The unfortunate reality is, it’s cheaper to screw the environment to make a quick buck (environmental costs are non-monetary, so in a purely economic analysis that businesses do, it doesn’t play a role). Various environmental taxes attempt to apply some sort of economic cost to harming the environment (carbon taxes, pollution taxes, surcharges, etc) but naturally you get strong opposition because the environment used to be “free”.

        Heck, back in the 80s when CFCs were banned by the Montreal Protocol (and the crisis was the ozone hole), a small exception was made for asthma inhalers (CFCs were used as a propellant). The exemption expired quite recently (about a year or two back) and a few months prior, the pharmaceutical industry was crying foul over that fact and wanting an extension (despite having a quarter-century of notice) to develop alternative CFC-free propellants.

        It’s an unfortunate reality that change doesn’t happen unless it’s forced. In an ideal world, it would happen naturally as people became mindful of the world we all live in, but when money’s involved, all bets are off.

    • Some time ago I read quite an extensive story about tin whiskers. The short version is:

      Engineer: This Rohs compliant soldering process may very well develop tin whiskers and our products will fail after 4 to 6 years.

      Marketing department:
      More then 4 years? That’s not a problem.

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