I Answer Your Questions

The other day I had a few extra moments and decided to indulge in a guilty pleasure — reading a magazine just for the fun of it. I picked a magazine with Tiger Woods on the cover crouching down, smiling widely with the bold words announcing, “I answer your questions.” Since I have lots of golf questions, and since he has established a record of expertise, I couldn't wait to see how he even knew about my questions. I read the article, applied his techniques, and now I have a few more things to ask. One question just leads to another.

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John H. Lau, Lead-Free Program manager for Agilent Technologies Inc., called me with a few questions recently. They were related to the European Union's Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) directive. This directive was made a law in the EU on February 13, 2003, and its implementation date is July 1, 2006. This means all the electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) with lead (Pb), mercury, cadmium, hexavalent, chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (except those with exemptions) cannot be produced in and shipped to EU Countries after July 1, 2006. Lau's questions were: “What if there are EU RoHS, China RoHS, Japan RoHS, U.S. RoHS, …etc., and they are not all the same? How are we going to ship our products?” Furthermore, he questions, “What if the test (measurement) methods of lead-free solders, lead-free components and lead-free final products are not the same from different countries, what should we do with our products?”

Though I do not have all of the answers, I know that standards and definitions have to be the same so that we can at least talk using the same scientific language. What is lead-free? Our definition must be the same. Perhaps regulations may be different, each government will decide, but science must be exact. It would be great if the world could get together at Brussels and decide the rules for lead-free. It may not happen though.

Why doesn't the U.S. go metric? When will front-end assembly talk to back-end assembly? When will board assembly talk to back-end assembly? Will the economy pick up dramatically? How will lead-free be resolved? What's the next killer application? We really don't have all of the answers. However, we listen to the industry, and when things change, we will report these changes as accurately as possible. That I can promise.

Gail Flower


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