Advancing Manufacturing Technology

iNEMI Organizes New Program to Support Supply Chain Conversion to HFR-Free PCBs

IPC APEX EXPO™ / LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (March 31, 2009) — The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI), an industry-led consortium, is organizing new initiatives to help the electronics industry manage the elimination of halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) from PCB materials.

“Several major OEMs have already announced they will eliminate halogenated flame retardants from their PCBs, and several others are considering doing the same,” said Jim McElroy, CEO of iNEMI.  “Although not required by legislation, companies are taking this proactive approach because of concerns that certain electronic materials containing halogenated flame retardants will produce toxic materials during combustion.  Obviously, flame retardants are needed, and industry has begun looking for alternative materials to reduce the risk.  Our activities will focus on orchestrating the effort and making sure that solutions are based on sound science and do not affect product quality or reliability.”

McElroy says an industry-wide conversion to HFR-free materials faces numerous challenges:

  • Reliability of materials with alternative flame retardants has not been fully qualified.
  • Complete “technology envelopes,” or technical specifications, have not been established for various product applications.
  • Incomplete design knowledge in segments of the supply chain increases risk of conversion issues.
  • A rapid, complete conversion of computer products will have a major impact on the supply chain and needs to be coordinated.
iNEMI is working with a number of its OEM and supply chain members to assess the feasibility of a broad conversion to HFR-free PCB materials.

“Even though IPC and JEDEC are developing halogen-free specifications, and numerous companies have ‘compliant’ materials, there are still significant questions regarding overall readiness to broadly transition to these materials,” said Martin Rausch, general manager, SMTD for Intel Corporation and chair of the iNEMI HFR-Free Leadership Program.  “We need to define electrical and mechanical material requirements and identify where design changes can overcome material property differences.”

As a result of discussions to date, iNEMI has organized this work as two initiatives: HFR-Free Signal Integrity and HFR-Free PCB Materials.  Both will closely collaborate to deliver a comprehensive assessment of HFR-Free technology readiness.

The HFR-Free PCB Materials Project, chaired by John Davignon, Intel Corporation, plans to identify technology limitations involved in transitioning to HFR-free PCB materials. The team will identify key mechanical performance characteristics and determine if they are in the critical path for the HFR-free PCB material transition. The initial focus will be on delamination, via and PTH reliability, pad cratering, and solder joint reliability.

The HFR-Free Signal Integrity Project, chaired by Stephen Hall, Intel Corporation, and co-chaired by David Senk, Cisco, will focus on ensuring there is no degradation of electrical signals in HFR-free PCB materials. Plans are to investigate permittivity and loss as well as how they are impacted by moisture absorption in new HFR-free materials.

Both project teams will identify key performance characteristics; design test vehicle(s) and test methodologies, leveraging standards where possible; and characterize candidate materials to establish performance limits. They will also assess technology readiness and identify gaps, determine where design trade-offs can overcome marginalities, and assess manufacturing capability and supply capacity.

For information regarding how to get involved with the iNEMI HFR-free efforts, please contact Bob Pfahl (bob.pfahl@inemi.org, +1 703-834-2083).

About iNEMI
The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative’s mission is to identify and close technology gaps, which includes the development and integration of the electronics industry supply infrastructure.  This industry-led consortium is made up of more than 65 manufacturers, suppliers, industry associations and consortia, government agencies and universities.  iNEMI roadmaps the needs of the electronics industry, identifies gaps in the technology infrastructure, establishes implementation projects to eliminate these gaps (both business and technical), and stimulates standards activities to speed the introduction of new technologies.  The consortium also works with government agencies, universities and other funding agencies to set priorities for future industry needs and R&D initiatives.  iNEMI is based in Herndon, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.), with regional offices in Shanghai, China and Limerick, Ireland.  For additional information about iNEMI, visit http://www.inemi.org.

For further information:
Cynthia Williams
+1 207-871-1260
cwilliams@inemi.org