In the early stages of deployment, Lenovo says it has observed a 50 percent decrease in printed circuit board warpage and a reduction in defective parts per million during the manufacturing process.
Lenovo says it will offer the new procedure for use on an industry-wide basis free of charge in 2018.
The PC manufacturer’s patent-pending Low Temperature Solder (LTS) process uses less energy than tin-based solder processes, which require extremely high temperatures, consuming more energy and adding stress on components.
Lenovo says its new LTS process can be universally applied to all electronics manufacturing involving printed circuit boards with no cost or performance impact to customers.
The company tested “thousands of combinations” of solder paste material composed of a mixture of tin, copper, bismuth nickel and silver, specific compositions of flux material and unique profiles of time and heat temperatures that combine to enable this process. The solder and flux mixture is first printed on the face of the circuit board. The components are then added and heat is applied to melt the solder mixture, securing and connecting the components to the board.
With the new LTS process, soldering heat is applied at maximum temperatures of 180 degrees Celsius, a reduction of 70 degrees from the previous method. It won’t increase production costs because it uses existing materials to compose the solder paste and existing oven equipment for heating, Lenovo says.
This year the company plants to use the new LTS process on 8 SMT lines and estimates savings of up to 35 percent on carbon emissions. By the end of 2018, Lenovo aims to have 33 SMT lines with 2 ovens per line using this new process, giving an estimated annual saving of 5,956 metric tons of CO22.
The company, which scored an A- on the 2016 CDP Climate Change questionnaire, has taken other steps to reduce its carbon emissions, including asking its LCD panel suppliers to reduce the amount of potent fluorinated greenhouse gases used during their manufacturing process.