Articles – Lead Free Alloys
Lead Free Alloys
Humanity has come up with a lot of things during their time on earth and, as with most things that us humans do, we sometimes have to backtrack and fix things. What seemed like a good idea at one time is then shown to be not such a good idea and then alternatives have to be found to replace that which we having been using for decades if not centuries. Lead is one of those things that humanity used for a long time during the rise of the various civilizations across the globe. People soon discovered that it was poisonous and started finding other things to replace it as well as ways this plentiful material can still be used. These days lead free alloys are the targets as manufacturing seeks ways to get lead out of the manufacturing business but especially out of electronics.
The problem with lead free alloys, however, is that they still need to be able to maintain the same performance as the alloys that had been used to date. Lead has various properties that make it quite useful in a number of industries but there are concerns about its poisonous nature. The Ancient Romans discovered this property of lead to their detriment as the aqueducts that they used throughout their empire used lead pipes to transport the water that was used for drinking. While there are very few instances where people actually still come in contact with the poisonous properties of lead, the powers that be would rather err on the safe side especially considering how prevalent electronics have become in the day to day life of many people around the world.
When seeking lead free alloys to replace the existing lead ones, there are a number of requirements that the alloy needs to adhere to.
Firstly the alloy needs to safe and at least relatively non-hazardous to peoples’ health and linked to this requisite, it should also be relatively safe for the environment and be easy to and inexpensive to recycle. One of the advantages of lead alloys was its relative low cost so lead free alloys need to maintain that same low cost factor to make them economically viable. The new alloys need to be compatible with the already existing technologies and designations of flux as developing entirely new ones would be both time consuming and expensive.
Since these lead free alloys will need to be used in electronics there are other properties that they will need to exhibit. They need to be corrosion resistant and have be strong enough to support the tasks that are required while also being easy to repair should something go wrong.
They also require a good electrical conductivity so as not to interfere as well as good thermal conductivity.
These are some of the requirements that are necessary when considering replacing existing lead alloys with lead free alloys. Many governments worldwide have already instituted the replacement and they are used widely already. As technology moves on things will have to change as people discover and try to fix the follies of their past. Lead, while plentiful, is a mistake that humanity is still trying to fix to this day but at least we seem to be winning the battle.
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