Quality Magazine

Trace Introduces New Certification and Testing Program for Tin Whisker Growth

February 27, 2009

PALATINE, IL - Trace Laboratories Inc., a full-service, internationally accredited, independent testing organization, introduces a new certification and testing program for tin whisker growth on lead-free components. Tin whiskers can bridge conductive materials causing a costly and potentially dangerous short in circuits.

Trace’s new program complies with the RoHS (Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances) Directive, incorporates the JEDEC Standard, JESD201: "Environmental Acceptance Requirements for Tin Whisker Susceptibility of Tin and Tin Alloy Surface Finishes," and includes the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) recommendations.

Trace’s tin whisker testing is a cost-competitive program consisting of three segments: two isothermal tests and one thermal cycling test. Trace will assemble, pre-condition (incorporating different re-flow profiles per standard), and conduct an initial screening inspection. The testing program typically consists of, at a minimum: 1) a high temperature/humidity aging test for 3,000 hours; 2) a storage test at ambient conditions for 3,000 hours; and a 3) rapid thermal cycle test for 1000 cycles. The program also includes tin-whisker inspection at the mid-point of each of these exposures to provide additional data on the tin-whisker growth characteristics of the test samples.

Trace inspects the product using SEM and SEM-certified stereomicroscopic equipment, providing detailed tin-whisker inspection at recommended intervals. The lab measures and records the total number of leads with tin-whiskers, the maximum whisker length, and whisker density. Comprehensive written test reports are provided and complete failure analysis is available.