"Tin Whisker" Research for Lead-Free Components in Defense Applications Announced by Curtiss-Wright

Jan. 21, 2015

EMBEDDED TECH TRENDS 2015, Phoenix, Ariz. – January 19, 2015 – Curtiss-Wright Corporation (NYSE: CW) has announced that its Defense Solutions division is increasing its leadership role in the defense and aerospace COTS electronics industry’s research into methodologies for mitigating the risks posed by the growth of “tin whiskers” in COTS embedded systems using lead-free components. The Company is also stepping up its outreach efforts to the embedded community to help educate system designers about best practices for the design and production of lead-free assemblies that enable lead-free products to be successfully used in diverse and harsh deployed environments. In a presentation at the VITA standards organization’s Embedded Tech Trends event today, Curtiss-Wright announced the availability, for qualified system integrators, of its new white paper, “Tin Whisker Risk Reduction and Mitigation Update” which provides an overview of the latest data, based on extensive assembly-level testing, concerning the use of lead-free components in military systems. In addition, Curtiss-Wright announced its plan to form a Lead-Free Working Group within VITA’s VSO (VITA Standards Organization) standards body later this year. 

“It is critical that embedded system designers inform themselves about the risks of tin whiskers and the best-practices for mitigating them,” said Lynn Bamford, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Defense Solutions division. “Since the introduction of the European Union WEEE/RoHS legislation in 2006, Curtiss-Wright has been a leading participant in industry efforts to understand the challenges of lead-free design. The good news is that the tin whisker phenomenon that can result from the use of lead-free devices can be kept at bay. We have defined mitigating approaches to support the design and manufacture of lead-free based systems and we are pleased to share our research with qualified system integrators.”

The “Tin Whisker” Problem

One of the highest profile, yet least understood, issues resulting from the near elimination in the commercial market of components with lead-containing terminations and finishes is the so-called “tin whisker” phenomenon. Tin whiskers are thin metallic structures that grow out of tin-rich finishes on lead-free component terminations. These growths have been shown to pose a serious short-circuit risk as well as the possibility of FOD (foreign object debris) in the case of a detached whisker. 

Evolving RoHS Regulations

Since its introduction in 2006, the European Union WEEE/ Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations, which called for a phased-out use of components with lead-containing terminations and finishes, have continued to evolve. Additional changes to the RoHS regulations were instituted in July 2011, when the rules were extended to include more electronic equipment categories, and removal of previous exemptions was initiated.

To request a copy of the “Tin Whisker Risk Reduction and Mitigation Update” white paper, please fill out this form.  (NOTE: Availability is limited to qualified system integrators.)

Sales inquiries: Please forward all Sales and reader service inquiries to Kavita Williams, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, Tel: (661) 705-1142; Fax: (661) 705-1206; email: [email protected].

For more information about Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division, please visit www.cwcdefense.com.

About Curtiss-Wright Corporation

Curtiss-Wright Corporation (NYSE:CW) is a global innovative company that delivers highly engineered, critical function products and services to the commercial, industrial, defense and energy markets.  Building on the heritage of Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers, Curtiss-Wright has a long tradition of providing reliable solutions through trusted customer relationships. The company employs approximately 10,000 people worldwide.  For more information, visit www.curtisswright.com.

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