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Lead Free Solutions

Published 23 December 2014 | By Saint-Gobain Sekurit

Saint-Gobain, a 350-year-old company, is one of the top 100 industrial groups in the world, providing glass, high-performance materials, construction products, building distribution and packaging. It has been manufacturing car glazing products for over 80 years, under the Saint-Gobain Sekurit name, and is a global Tier 1 supplier to all major OEMs.


Lead free soldering on glass - a worldwide challenge to the automotive industry

The regulatory constraints, as well as the constant performance improvements required from their suppliers by the OEMs are a permanent challenge for glass makers. This is because the passenger's comfort and safety is a big concern

Lead is an environmental contaminant, toxic and ecotoxic from low doses. Indeed, it has been classified as a possible carcinogen in 1980, classified in Group 2B by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer ) then as probably carcinogenic to humans and animals in 2004. These are issues of public health, occupational health, environmental, climate and sustainability of the economy and development. For instance international norms like ISO / TC 183 -Minerals and concentrates of copper, lead, zinc and nickel-, and The European RoHS Directive (2002/95/EC) aim to limit the use of lead.

The European Commission is permanently working on efforts to make vehicle dismantling and recycling more environmentally friendly, and has in this context the clear target that future vehicles shall not contain lead anymore. This affects automotive glazing, because today the state of the art is often to use lead-containing materials when electrical connectors are soldered to an automotive glazing e.g. for antenna or heating function.

Consequently, European Commission has formulated a legislation that bans solders containing lead from automotive glazing. All new car models that are homologated from January 1st 2016 will have to use exclusively lead-free technologies for soldering connectors on glass. The legislation does not only apply to cars manufactured in Europe, but also to cars that are manufactured elsewhere and then exported to Europe, and hence it is indeed a challenge to the worldwide automotive industry.

Sekurit's Lead free solutions

The EU requirement is a very big challenge, since leaded solutions have been used over several decades, and only a limited amount of time was available to develop equivalent lead-free solutions. Saint-Gobain Sekurit - leader in automotive glass - has, however, taken up the challenge and has been able to develop very rapidly a lead-free soldering solution including a variety of connectors that will address the needs of car manufacturers. The lead free technology developed by Saint Gobain Sekurit does fulfill most OEM's specifications, as well as specifications defined by VDA, Jama, USCAR, etc... Some OEMs have already deeply tested the Saint-Gobain solution, and first products are already brought to the market in 2013.

Because Saint-Gobain has a permanent will to provide the best product quality and robustness, its lead free soldering solution is mainly based on VDA specifications. The VDA specifications are considering demanding environmental conditions for example in hot southern Europe areas in summer conditions, taking also into account the car design, screen inclination, thickness and colour of the glass which also affect the heat load. There, the temperature load measured on backlights goes up to 130°C. That is why the requested tests reach those temperatures. These conditions are not always considered in other specifications and Saint-Gobain solution passes them when others fail below 100°C.The patented Saint-Gobain Lead free solution is even going beyond legal requirements, since already today it is available not only for soldering ON glass, but also for soldering IN laminated glazing, a requirement that is currently still under discussion at European level.

Saint-Gobain has developed a portfolio of different types of connectors to make sure that there is a solution for all carmaker's specifications. The design of the connectors is quite flexible for customization giving to any carmaker the possibility to choose the most appropriate geometry that fits his own constraints for every application on tempered, or, in laminated glass. An additional advantage of the Saint-Gobain proposal is that it needs less surface than other solutions and is less expensive than generally proposed Indium-based solutions.

Why Saint-Gobain Sekurit lead free soldering solution is unique?

Thanks to Saint-Gobain's R&D knowledge and expertise on glass and components, it is the first glassmaker who is able to propose such a solution, able to pass the most critical testing conditions of legal and OEM's regulations.
This ensures the level of robustness required to avoid the separation of the components, malfunction of the heating network or breakage.
Already a majority of European, American and Japanese OEM's have chosen Saint-Gobain's solution for their future cars to be launched in some cases even before 2016. Finally, you will be able to recognize at a glance the lead free Saint-Gobain soldering thanks to its logo

Saint-Gobain Sekurit:
Marketing Manager : Herbert Bayer herbert.bayer@saint-gobain.com