Auto OEMs complete Pb-free Solder Validation Test Plan.
SOUTHFIELD, MI -- A project team made up of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors has developed a process to help automotive suppliers remove lead-based solder from electronics components used in vehicles.
Under the auspices of the United States Council for Automotive Research, and in concert with the Vehicle Recycling Partnership LLC, a Lead-Free Solder Validation Test Plan has been developed for suppliers of audio components, instrument clusters, engine controls and other electronics components to use in meeting the requirements for all products manufactured by Chrysler, Ford and GM.
Goals include reducing costs, speeding time-to-market, and meeting the European End-of-Life Vehicle directive requiring the elimination of leaded solder in all electronic components beginning January 2011.
Representatives from TRW and Lear Corp. joined the VRP Lead-Free Solder Validation Team, which began work in April 2008. Among the challenges was sorting through the hundreds of tests and validation processes each of the OEMs require suppliers to use.
"Taking lead out of a component essentially means it's a new product," said Jennifer Senish, member of the VRP Lead-Free Solder Validation Team and General Motors environmental/durability engineer. "There needs to be an entirely new set of tests, including chemical, thermal and fatigue evaluations to ensure the products are still robust."
Validating components and certifying they are Pb-free are daunting tasks for the automotive parts suppliers, as the average car has between 400 and 600 electrical components. "Whenever you think about changing something, you need to know which tests are essential for those changes. So we looked at everyone's parameters and how we could combine them into a series of 'surgical tests' out of the hundreds of possibilities," Senish said.
The benefit for suppliers is that testing once for three manufacturers will reduce costs and speed time-to-market. The completed consensus lead-free test plan also should help component suppliers and auto OEMs meet Europe's ELV directive, USCAR said.
"This has really allowed us to be ahead of the game in terms of ELV requirements, as well as the further elimination of lead used in vehicles in general," Senish said.
Founded in 1992, USCAR is the collaborative automotive technology organization for Chrysler, Ford and GM, Its goal is to further strengthen the technology base of the US auto industry through cooperative R&D.
EDITED BY MIKE BUETOW