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Using ROHS Components in Military Electronics Products

Q

quality24

#1
We are a military contractor so we are not allowed to use Rohs compliant components is our assemblies. It is getting harder to find Non-Rohs compliant parts. The Military wants the lead in the solder and on the components. Thru hole components could be dipped in a solder pot with tin-lead solder. Surface mount components are a real problem. Does anyone know how their company deals with the military and aviation customers that require Non-Rohs components? Their concern is that tin solder is brittle and the tin whisker problem.

Does anyone have a system that in acceptable to the military that allow RoHs parts to be used in military products?
 
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C

CluPhone

#2
Re: Using Rohs components in the military

Hmmm. Not to just give noise, but for what it's worth... medical, aerospace, and military all have the same issues... we all are struggling with keeping product up to pace and not having tin whisker formation.

Have you looked at conformal coatings and/or potting of your products??? May or may not help depending on your environment.

Any help out there for this one?
 
Q

quality24

#3
Re: Using Rohs components in the military

I guess that is my question has any group come out and said you can use Rohs parts if you cover them with .005" of conformal coating or some other simple solution. I have never heard of an approval to use Rohs parts in the military or aviation industries. We produce parts for the military, commercial aircraft and medical.
 
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C

CluPhone

#4
Re: Using Rohs components in the military

Because the suppliers for parts provide RoHS compliant parts, the best we can do is install them, using lead based solder and/or conformal coatings.

I know the automotive industry has been successful in implementing RoHS compliant parts through conformal coatings and potting as they are not exempt. And their environment and duty cycles are not insignificant... In addition, the same vehicles and many of their components (engine controllers etc...) have been supplied for military use as well.

I know in some cases, the military has looked on industry to supply them a MTBF, backups or similar measures to ensure mission critical systems are available.

You may wish to ask your procurement officer for examples of some of these.
 
E

e006823

#5
We've discovered that a good many manufacturers will provide SnPB finishes at a premium (money and lead time). Whenever possible we order those components.

When we're unable to find a SnPb finish component we explore other options (gold etc.). When all else fails we go back to the customer with a mitigation strategy and ask for a waiver to use the RoHs compliant part.

A good place to start is to implement a risk mitigation plan I'd suggest that you refer to the ANSI/GEIA -0005 series of standards for guidance. I'd also look at NASA's tin whisker page (http://nepp.nasa.gov/WHISKER/). they have a great deal of information on mitigation.
 
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P

Pogi_

#6
I guess the (maybe not the best) solution to your issue is to ensure you understand the very basic nature of the application of the product you are offering to the military market. Some military applications are not stringent and is short lived to require high reliability requirement. Some are actually sent to space or sent to extremes that may cause the part to expand and contract (TC and TS conditions) taking the perfomance and material integrity to the limit.

Also remember that ROHS is not only Pb free...it does require the max content value of elements / compounds that you can trace from the product mass.

If they say they cannot accept ROHS complaint products then you cannot go around and sell them what they tagged as "forbidden" or else you will be in trouble.

Also not all non-ROHS products are really expensive (most of them are really cheap due to the fact that the materials used to build them was once considered standard), it depends on what type of product you are selling.

If they trust you and want to build the business with you because you are the valued suppplier. I could suggest making a special agreement with your customer by material build and quality contract (more of a PPAP documentation with PSW or anything similar). Then lay out what you can and what you cannot do so that both sides understand your limitation then present it to them together with your TRIED AND TESTED solution. They will be happier this way rather than taking them to a standard loop hole technicality battle. They are the military, they dont give a D$#%! for anything complicated - keep it real and simple.

I hope this helps
 
D

David Hartman

#7
Re: Using Rohs components in the military

I guess that is my question has any group come out and said you can use Rohs parts if you cover them with .005" of conformal coating or some other simple solution. I have never heard of an approval to use Rohs parts in the military or aviation industries. We produce parts for the military, commercial aircraft and medical.
Please note that tin whiskers flourish in low temperature environments (such as high altitudes/space), and that whereas conformal coat may slow down the growth, it will not prevent it. Over time in the correct low temp environments tin whiskers have caused electronic failures even on conformal coated PWA's. NASA continues to gather evidence of this.
 
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