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Big Bucks, Big Bucks, No Whammies!!!

If you are like me, when you hear the term "whammy" you think back to the 80's game show called Press Your Luck.  The electronics assembly industry is converging on what I like to call the triple whammy.  This would be very bad if you were playing Press Your Luck, but for us it is really the result of innovation and environmental movements.

The triple whammy in electronics is the convergence of two environmental (and legislative) movements combined with the continued advancement in electronics functionality.  Those three things are:

  • Pb-Free: Many assemblers have already made this transition while others are just beginning this process.  Pb-Free alloys have higher melting points, poorer soldering characteristics, and, in some cases, decreased reliability.
  • Halogen-Free: This transition is just beginning and has a dramatic impact on PCBs, cables, and soldering fluxes and pastes.
  • Miniaturization: As the technology improves, we are putting more functionality into smaller devices.  This means that the PCB assembly process becomes much more challenging with tiny components and thin boards.

From an assembly perspective, the triple whammy means that we all need to focus being very diligent in selecting the best materials (PCB's, components, soldering materials) to do the job.  In addition, process optimization will have a dramatic effect on yields.

In the spirit of Press Your Luck, we need to use engineering and process expertise to ensure the whammies don't take us out of the game and we can all reap the "Big Bucks!"