U.S. Congress to Approve Funds for R&D on Lead-free Electronics in Aerospace, Defense and High-performance Applications

In a win for U.S. taxpayers, defense readiness, and the electronics industry supply chain, the U.S. House and Senate were scheduled to approve a defense spending bill that includes $5 million for research and development on the issues surrounding lead-free electronics in mission-critical applications.

IPC and dozens of its members and allies supported the request for these funds, which are included in the final version of the Fiscal 2020 defense appropriations bill, being voted upon in the U.S. Senate today. The House has already approved the spending package, and President Trump is expected to sign the measure within hours after its passage.

Over the last 15 years, the commercial electronics industry has largely phased out its use of lead (Pb) in the manufacture of electronic components and circuit assemblies, due to government regulations driven by lead’s harmful effects on human health and the environment. However, the aerospace, defense and high-performance (ADHP) electronics sectors have secured exceptions to these restrictions because there is not enough data to guarantee the reliability of lead-free components in ADHP applications. The lead-free gap between commercial and defense electronics will only grow as lead-free becomes more entrenched in cutting-edge commercial technologies, and as governments – especially the European Commission – seek even more stringent rules on the use of lead.

“The migration of the commercial industry to lead-free electronics has introduced technical and supply-chain concerns in the aerospace, defense and high-performance sectors that can only be addressed through greater, more focused public-private R&D,” said Chris Mitchell, IPC vice president of global government relations. “The funds in this bill will help support the much-needed collective effort and help ensure that mission-critical systems have full access to cutting-edge electronics from a robust global supply chain.”

“Together with our partners in the Pb-Free Electronics Risk Management (PERM) Council, IPC will continue to advocate for a proactive, long-term approach to this issue,” Mitchell added.

IPC and its partners believe that a five-year, $40 million investment in a public-private R&D program would yield more than $100 million in U.S. defense savings per year and improve military readiness and overall innovation.

For more information, read this IPC Blog from April 2019.

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