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I SEE : Interconnections for lead-free electronic Systems used in automotive EnvironmEnts

2011: Deadline for lead free in high reliability applications

By 2011, the legislator will forbid the use of tin lead for the assembly of automotive electronics. In less critical applications than automotive, the transfer to lead free (LF) showed to require careful risk assessments and extensive qualification tests. Despite, some lead free related quality and reliability issues remain. Automotive operational conditions are known to be severe and in some cases life-critical, making this transfer even more complex.

The I SEE-project: turning this deadline into a opportunity

The replacements for tin lead in the less critical applications are not proven for the automotive markets. They may be insufficiently reliable under the shock and vibration loadings, typical for automotive environments. There is a need for in-depth understanding of the behaviour of common lead free interconnection technologies and solutions. New materials being the answer to the green legislation need also to be cost-effective. Their development requires :

  • a thorough understanding of their properties
  • the availability of advanced reliability test methods

Both are insufficient or lacking at the moment. The "I SEE-project" will be started in order to bridge these knowledge gaps. Companies incorporating this knowledge in their business processes will have a competitive advantage. There is a significant knowledge spill-over to other high reliability lead-free assembled products and applications.

A search for innovative solutions

I SEE will establish the basic science and technology for the development of two interconnect material solutions (a new solder and a adhesive). The in-depth study of ‘green’ laminates for printed circuit board (pcb) substrates and lead free die attach are also a part of the project. It aims to provide fundamental understanding and quantification of the most important failure mechanisms of the new materials. As such, it pushes forward the state-ofthe-art of interconnect solutions for high reliability lead free electronics. Alternative test approaches will be investigated to provide major improvements to the current reliability methods.

Joining forces to increase the innovation speed

I SEE brings together Flanders’ expertise in a unique consortium consisting of an assembly company, a printed circuit board manufacturer operating in high complexity/high reliability markets, a world market leader in adhesives for electronics assembly, a solder material manufacturer and two academic partners. The multidisciplinary consortium is completed by an automotive design partner bringing in end-user requirements and application knowhow. All have their competence centres based in Flanders. Some of them already participated in earlier IWT projects. The consortium combines complementary expertise and capabilities indispensible to generate new insights. Without ‘I SEE’, it will not be possible for the partners to achieve the same level of understanding within the same throughput time.

Empowering industrial partners to sustain market leadership

I SEE is of vital importance to the industrial partners of the consortium. It enables them to sustain their international competitiveness and gives leverage to seize new market opportunities. I SEE provides the partners critical know-how for securing product quality, cost reduction and for safeguarding their businesses. Socio-economic impact in Flanders Amongst the consortium partners there are 3 SME’s. For all partners the I SEE project is indispensible to maintain the existing or create new employment in the SMT assembly industry in Flanders. Implementation of the project insights and the test methodologies will form the basis of new value adding activities, products and services. These are estimated to 200 million Euro realised in Flanders within a timeframe of ten years after the project end date.