What is RoHS and how will it affect the plating industry? H. A.
In the last few months I have received a number of questions on this subject. RoHS (Restriction of Certain Hazardous Substances) is a European Union directive. It basically states that beginning in July, 2006 certain materials will be banned from use in electrical and electronic equipment. These substances are cadmium, lead, mercury, polybrominated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and, our old favorite, hexavalent chromium.
The major question for electroplaters and metal finishers is how this directive will affect the electroplating process. The answer is obvious of course; your customers will require finishes that do not contain cadmium, lead or hexavalent chromium. If your customers manufacture items that are used in the electrical and electronics area, you probably have already been exposed to this directive. If you haven’t heard about RoHS, now is the time to find out more about it.
Companies like Hewlett-Packard and IBM have multiple internal documents discussing how they are going to comply with this directive. For example Hewlett-Packard states in one of their documents that their goal in 2005 is to eliminate lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium in 50% of their electronic products. Their goal in 2006 is to eliminate the same materials from 100% of their electronic products. A good web site to get additional information on the RoHS initiative:
www.newark.com/services/design/rohs/faq.html. If you do a Google search under the term "RoHS Initiative," you will come up with at least 70 sites to investigate.