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Technical Inquiry

Fine-line soldering in automotive glazing now lead-free

 

Even though lead is an environmental contaminant, lead-containing solder has been used in automotive glazing for decades. Now the European RoHS Directive (2002/95/EC) aims to limit the use of lead, while the European Commission is working on efforts to make vehicle dismantling and recycling more environmentally friendly.

This means even materials commonly used for soldering connectors on glass must be lead-free. In automotive glazing, the connectors for the heat grids, antennas, and alarm circuits are joined to the fired silver print by soldering.

Our researchers worked intensively to develop suitable silver pastes for the new era of lead-free solder alloys in automotive glazing. Ferro’s recently launched silver paste system is even suitable for the printing of fine silver lines with a width of only 300 μm.

Initial research into substituting indium, bismuth, zinc, and copper showed significant disadvantages. With a lower ductility than lead-containing solder materials, these alternatives were often too brittle and could not fully compensate the mechanical stresses of the solder process itself. In fact, recently intensified weathering and climate tests proved that lead-free solder alloys might even cause failure during the lifetime of a car when used on conventional silver pastes. Ferro’s new alternatives passed weathering tests, proving that lead-free soldering can be done with the high reliability needed to become the new standard in automotive glazing. 


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