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Lead-free solder processing driven forward with new high-heat, IR-solderable FR connector materials

GE Advanced Materials : 16 April, 2004  (New Product)
Thermocomp HT Solder and Starflam composites give connector manufacturers competitive alternative to lower temperature, brominated materials
A range of new grades of high-heat connector materials introduced by LNP Engineering Plastics has been specially designed to resist the thermal challenges of infrared (IR) reflow soldering, offer the shrinkage characteristics of widely used thermoplastic polyesters for easy drop-in replacement, and are formulated with a halogen-free, flame-retardant package that can be used in eco-label applications. These glass-reinforced grades – called Thermocomp HT Solder composite and Starflam composite – are positioned to replace lower-temperature materials used in lead-free solderable connector applications in the computer peripherals, telecommunications, and data communications industries.

The environmental impact of PWB (printed wiring board) manufacturing is coming under increased international scrutiny. Rapid advances in circuit technology mean a large number of electronic devices (eg cell phones, computers, printers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), games, and other peripherals) are rendered obsolete each year. Incineration or landfilling of non-recycled waste from these devices can potentially cause lead – a major component of conventional solder – to contaminate groundwater. Furthermore, traditional use of halogenated flame-retardants, while effective at suppressing the spread of fire, can release toxic and corrosive gases when burned. These perceived risks have resulted in a variety of global legislation that favor lead-free soldering (RoHS) and use of halogen-free flame-retardants (RoHS/WEEE).

The new Thermocomp HT Solder UF-1006 and Thermocomp HT Solder ZF-1006 compounds feature a matrix of resin blends and 30 percent glass. The former is based on polyphthalamide (PPA) resin, while the latter features a matrix of modified-polyphenylene ether (MPPE).

The new Starflam ECO-FR compounds are based on glass fibre reinforced PPA (high temperature polyamide), coupled with ECO-FR technology. Starflam UF-1003 is a 15% glass reinforced compound and Starflam UF-1004 is a 20% glass reinforced material.

All four grades offer high heat distortion temperatures of 260C+, excellent dimensional stability, and excellent flame-retardancy. Free of halogens, the new compounds are the latest product offerings to utilize LNP’s new flame-resistance technology to help meet growing eco-label application demand. Other products complying with ECO FR requirements at lower temperatures are available through GE Advanced Materials’ line of Noryl PPO resins, many grades of Lexan polycarbonate resin and a number of Cycoloy ABS/PC resin grades.

According to Charlie Crew, president, LNP Engineering Plastics: “We’re very excited about these new composites. They are workhorse materials that address the demands of lead-free soldering operations head-on and we strongly believe that they’ll be a real game changer in several key areas. By removing bromine, we’ve made these materials proactively usable in a range of eco-driven applications around the globe and have simultaneously helped to give our customers a competitive advantage.”
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