"Respect for the environment !" It is one of the “10 commitments of FCI”. The company believes in sustainable development as a vital ingredient in its strategy for growth.
FCI has been well-prepared to help its customers address global and regional legislation mandating the removal or restriction of lead and other hazardous materials from electrical and electronic equipment.
With a long-standing lead-free research and development programme and a commitment to providing all FCI divisions with best-in-class technologies, FCI has developed a platform that helped to meet the new challenging market conditions .
The move to lead-free is the most dramatic change to have occurred in the connector industry, with repercussions throughout the logistical chain, affecting all product lines and production platforms. To manage this change, an FCI project team was formed, which used project management principles and carefully selected guidelines to develop technologies in line with customer requirements.
FCI decided the best way to smooth the transition and minimise the cost impact on its customers was to collaborate with a number of its peers in the connector industry to align efforts This helped to develop standards for the industry and made it easier for FCI customers to find universal connector solutions.
While on the journey to lead-free implementation, it was understood that customers need support and information on lead-free and RoHS-compliant products.
In addition, recognising that different customers are on different timelines for compliance, FCI has taken the approach of supplying products to fit their specific needs, wherever they are on the migration path to lead-free. FCI has developed a flexible delivery concept, whereby both conventional and lead-free products can be made available when customers need them.
On a technology level, lead-free products are not without risk. Over the years, FCI has developed a comprehensive knowledge base about tin, in terms of its solderability, for example, and about specific phenomena such as whiskering. FCI has been able to select the best materials and optimise its processes to the fullest extent. Nevertheless some risks remain. FCI is confident it has evaluated these risk factors and is able to provide its customers with effective advice on how to reduce and manage them in the best possible way.
By taking a flexible approach, it has been necessary for FCI to designate very clearly which products are lead-free (and RoHS compliant) and which are not RoHS-compliant. In addition, strict shipment guidelines have been followed to ensure lead-free and non lead-free products remain separate at all times.
To help customers meet their legal obligations, FCI has been building an internal database from which lead-free and RoHS reporting(*) information can be taken. In this way, FCI is able to provide its customers with detailed information on substances found in FCI products.
If you have any questions on FCI’s RoHS and lead-free programme, please visit our bnFAQ section, or send an email to our helpdesk.
* Tin whiskers are a physical phenomena that can occur with “pure” tin plating. One of the primary reasons that lead had for decades been added to tin plating and solders in the electronics industry was to reduce the likelihood of tin whisker growth. This is an industry-wide issue not restricted to FCI or its products. FCI has for several years conducted extensive testing of tin plating chemistries and various techniques to reduce to likelihood of whisker formation. In addition, we participate in industry forums and standards organizations, such as iNEMI and IEC, where whisker test specifications continue to be developed. These industry test methods along with additional test methods developed internally at FCI were used to qualify FCI tin plating processes and those used by our suppliers
FCI employs industry recognized whisker mitigation practices. However, for certain applications where any possible whisker formation must be avoided, FCI recommends alternative lead-free finishes, such as gold or GXT® (gold-flash over palladium-nickel alloy) plating, which have no possibility of whisker formation.