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What The Heck is RoHS and Why Do I Need It For My Assembly?

What The Heck is RoHS and Why Do I Need It For My Assembly?

Many of you have probably heard of the RoHS Directive that went into effect in 2006. The Directive initiated by the European Countries essentially restricted the use of lead, mercury and other potentially hazardous substances in products.

The RoHS Directive (which stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances) restricts the use of hazardous materials, particularly found in electrical and electronic components. further aims to reduce the environmental impacts of waste and improve recyclability efforts.

Due to the potential health and liability risks that are associated with lead, some governments have regulated its elimination from certain manufacturing processes.

How Does the RoHS Directive Affect Your Assembly?

The RoHS Directive covers electrical and electronic equipment such as printed circuit boards, power supplies, motors and drives, electronic components, displays, switches, sockets and connectors. 

For most PCB assemblers, the major item that would need to be changed is a new or second wave solder machine. 

The following products are exempt from the requirements:

  • Lead in solders for servers, storage and storage array systems.
  • Lead in solders for network infrastructure equipment, critical life support
  • Medical and monitoring equipment, aerospace and military products.

WEEE Legislation Aims to Conserve Landfills and Boost recycling

In January 2003 the EU Council also adopted the “Directive of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment” (WEEE).  This directive requires producers of electrical and electronic equipment to finance the collection and disposal of their products at the end-of-life.  WEEE has specific target dates for recycling and recovery, with the first target being August 13, 2005. 

How Does This Legislation Affect You or Your Customers?

If you or your customers sell or ship any of the covered electronic components, sub-assemblies or finished products directly to any of the European Union countries, it will be you or their responsibility to ensure that compliance is met for all covered products made for or shipped into the EU market. 

Further, if you supply components (i.e. circuit assemblies) or equipment to a U.S. OEM selling into the EU market, you will be required by those OEM customers to prove your ROHS compliance or you risk being removed from their supplier lists.

While the legislation has not taken effect yet in the United States, there could be a time in the very new future where lead-free is required for certain assemblies.