I just got back from IPC/JEDEC's Conference: RoHS Compliance and Beyond. Before I get into technical stuff, a few comments on traveling to Europe.
I traveled through London's Heathrow airport. The time to clear security and customs has noticeably increased. I had 2 hours between flights and I almost didn't make it!
The second annoyance is that in the era of $0.01 per minute international phone calls, telephone calls from hotels are as much as 8 dollars per minute. I tried to use a phone card, but in some instances the receiving phone wouldn't accept the call because the sending phone sent no callerid. It is amazing how quickly one can talk when it cost $8/minute. So in Germany, I got a calling card for $0.01 per minute to make a call to the US. I made a local call from my room to connect to the calling card service, expecting a connect fee from the hotel of $1 or so. It ends up that even for local calls the hotel charges $0.50 per minute.
Looks like it is time for an international cell phone!
On to the conference highlights:
1. Attendance was down from the typical 150-200 to about 70 people.
2. Shimadzu gave a presentation on all of their equipment that performs chemical analysis for RoHS compliance. Impressive stuff.
3. Enthone's Alpha Star appears to have the immersion silver voiding problem solved. Most see immersion silver as the "finish of the future" for PWBs.
4. IBM and Suss Microtech have developed a lead free flip chip technology in anticipation of the exemption of leaded C4 joints expiring in 2010.
Interestingly, I was personally asked by some of the conference leaders to speak briefly about some of the advantages of lead-free, especially tighter pad spacings.
See the photo above. Leaded paste on the left, lead free on the right. My explanation seemed to go over well. Certainly lead-free's lack of wetting is in more cases than not a disadvantage....but not on an SMT board with little or no through holes and a desire for tight pad spacings e.g. many of our small personal electronics like cell phones, PDAs and iPods.