February 10, 2017
By Bob O'Donnell
In a tech news world that’s dominated by big product announcements and major innovations, every once in a while it’s nice to take a step back and look at something really basic: like soldering. Though I can virtually guarantee that few people have given much thought to the process of melting metal to secure chips or wires onto circuit boards, the truth is, soldering is an essential part of the manufacturing process for every high-tech product made. You could not make any of the tech products we all rely on (as well as many, many other things we use every day) without soldering.
Here's a link to the column: https://techpinions.com/unpacking-the-weeks-news-friday-february-10-2017/48822
So, while it may not be the most exciting topic in the world, an important improvement in how soldering is done really does matter, particularly when it offers economic and environmental advantages. This week, PC market leader and major tech manufacturer Lenovo announced a new breakthrough in soldering they call Low-Temperature Solder (LTS) that allows the company to create solder joints at a lower temperature, thereby reducing the amount of energy required to do an essential manufacturing task.
Specifically, the company believes its patented new approach can reduce their carbon emissions by an impressive 35%, which translates to about 5,956 metric tons of carbon dioxide or 670,170 gallons of gasoline per year. Even better, the lower-temperature process reduces the stresses that can typically happen with higher-temperature soldering, leading to a reduction in problematic solder joints and an overall improvement in reliability. Essentially, the process allows Lenovo to use the kind of lower temperature soldering techniques that used to be available with lead soldering (which was discontinued for environmental reasons about 10 years go), but with more environmentally friendly tin-based solder.
The company developed the new solder mixture after years of experimentation and has already begun to use it on the production of several of their high-end notebooks, including the 5th generation X1 Carbon. By 2018, Lenovo plans to use the techniques across many of their manufacturing lines and, even better, according to their news release “intends to offer the new procedure for use on an industry-wide basis free of charge.” Nice.
Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.
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