HDP User Group Initiates PWB Environmental Life Cycle Analysis Project

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The High Density Packaging User Group International, Inc. (HDP User Group), a global non-profit cooperative research and development organization for the Electronics Manufacturing industries, announces the start of a new project group focusing on Printed Wiring Board (PWB) environmental life cycles. At this time the project is in the idea stage and open to all member and non-member companies and individuals interested in the focus area.

reducing the costs and risks for the Electronics Manufacturing industry when using advanced electronic packaging and assembly

The High Density Packaging User Group International, Inc. (HDP User Group), a global non-profit cooperative research and development organization for the Electronics Manufacturing industries, announces the start of a new project group focusing on Printed Wiring Board (PWB) environmental life cycles. At this time the project is in the idea stage and open to all member and non-member companies and individuals interested in the focus area.

Throughout the past decade the electronics industry has increasingly had to address the environmental impact of the products that it produces. Initially the focus was on toxicity issues and in particular eliminating the presence of hazardous materials within the products that can create health issues during service life and end of life disposal. Legislation and industry action has addressed many of these issues and attention is now turning to energy consumption of electrical designs as well as environmental considerations associated with the production cycle from raw materials through to final assembly.

"Recent studies have indicated that, depending on the product, as much as 50% of its total life time environment impact can occur before the product reaches its end user. The life cycle analysis approach assists greatly in understanding which material and process selections have the biggest repercussions on the environmental profile of a product. This is a very proactive technique in determining optimum design and manufacturing decisions and thereby significantly reducing the impact," states HDP User Group Project Director Brian Smith.

Environmental life cycle analysis, while still a fairly new technique, is becoming increasingly recognized as a tool in measuring producers' environmental credentials. It is therefore likely that end users will demand data from their supply chain that indicates the impact of each system/product type that they procure.

While there have been a number of studies on electronic systems, to date detailed life cycle analysis studies focusing on PWBs are limited and are specific to certain product types. Obtaining data from the full spectrum of the supply chain has proven difficult and few companies have become actively involved in this activity. It is however clear that decisions made at the design stage of a product can have a major impact on environmental footprint of a printed circuit assembly. Currently, the designer has little resources to enable him/her to make informed choices when considering design for the environment. Decisions such as selection of plated finishes, laminates and solder alloys can all have an impact.

"Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool for analyzing environmental impacts from a holistic perspective with reference to a product system and their related environmental impacts throughout its life cycle (e.g. from product inception to end of life activities)," notes Albert Tsang, Dell Environmental Affairs. "Dell is committed to undertake LCA studies and identify opportunities to reduce the environmental impact from our products. However, LCA findings are as good as the underlying data and based on our current understanding, this data requires improvements. The HDP User Group LCA PWB study can greatly contribute to the overall quality of this data by performing this assessment with other stakeholders in this proposed project."

The aim of this project is to conduct a life cycle analysis on the environmental impact of a selection of PWB designs. The project will focus on the PWB fabrication process as well as the assembly process. Due to the diversity of the electronic components mounted to the board, these will not be included in the study. HDP welcomes the input from any individual, company or organization interested in the life cycle analysis on the environmental impact of PWBs.

For further information on the new project visit the project's webpage at http://www.hdpug.org/content/pwb-environmental-life-cycle-analysis or contact Brian Smith, HDP User Group Project Facilitator, at brians(at)hdpug(dot)org.

About HDP User Group
HDP User Group (http://www.hdpug.org) is a global research and development organization based in Cave Creek AZ, dedicated to "reducing the costs and risks for the Electronics Manufacturing industry when using advanced electronic packaging and assembly". This international industry led group organizes and conducts R&D programs to address the technical issues facing the industry, including design, printed circuit board manufacturing, electronics assembly, and environmental compliance. HDP User Group maintains additional offices in Austin, Texas; Stockholm, Sweden; and Tokyo, Japan.

For more information, visit HDP User Group on the Internet at http://www.hdpug.org or contact Darryl Reiner at darrylr(at)hdpug(dot)org, phone number +1 480-951-1963.

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