What is HAL lead-free?

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Composition of HAL lead-free Solder

The exact composition of HAL lead-free solder can vary somewhat between manufacturers, but it typically contains the following metals:

Metal Percentage
Tin (Sn) 95.5-96.5%
Silver (Ag) 3.0-4.0%
Copper (Cu) 0.5-0.7%

The high tin content provides good solderability, while the silver enhances mechanical strength and resistance to thermal fatigue. The small amount of copper improves wetting and prevents the formation of Tin Whiskers.

Some variations of HAL lead-free solder may also contain trace amounts (<0.1%) of other metals such as bismuth, indium, or germanium to tweak certain properties. However, the tin-silver-copper combination forms the basis for most HAL formulations.

Advantages of HAL Lead-Free Solder

There are several key benefits that make HAL an attractive lead-free solder option:

1. Excellent Wetting and Solderability

The precise alloy composition of HAL solder is optimized to provide excellent wetting and spreading on common PCB pad finishes and component leads. This allows for good solder joint formation and reliability.

2. Compatibility with Existing Processes

HAL lead-free solder works well with most existing SnPb soldering processes and equipment. It has a similar melting point (217-220??C) and can be used as a drop-in replacement without major process changes in many cases.

3. Good Mechanical Properties

Solder joints formed with HAL lead-free have good shear strength, thermal fatigue resistance, and creep resistance. This enhances the reliability of assemblies using this alloy.

4. Compliance with Environmental Regulations

By eliminating lead content, HAL solder helps manufacturers comply with the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive and other similar environmental regulations around the world that restrict the use of lead.

Disadvantages of HAL Lead-Free Solder

While HAL has many benefits, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider as well:

1. Higher Melting Point than SnPb

The melting point of HAL lead-free solder is approximately 34-37??C higher than that of traditional Sn63Pb37 solder (183??C). This requires higher soldering iron temperatures and can impact thermal stress on components.

2. Increased Cost

The raw materials in HAL solder, especially silver, are more expensive than those in SnPb solder. This results in a higher cost for lead-free solder wire and paste. However, the cost gap is shrinking as lead-free becomes more commonplace.

3. Slightly Reduced Wetting Compared to SnPb

While the solderability of HAL is excellent for a lead-free alloy, it is still not quite as good as SnPb in terms of wetting and spreading. Proper surface preparation and soldering parameter optimization is important.

Applications for HAL Lead-Free Solder

HAL lead-free solder is suitable for use in a wide range of electronics assembly applications, including:

  • Printed Circuit Board (PCB) assembly
  • Wave soldering
  • Reflow soldering
  • Selective soldering
  • Hand soldering and rework
  • Semiconductor packaging

It can be used with common component packages such as Surface Mount Devices (SMDs), Plated Through-Hole (PTH), and Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs). HAL is compatible with organic solderability preservatives (OSPs), immersion tin, immersion silver, and electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) surface finishes.

Some specific industries and products where HAL lead-free solder is used include:

  • Consumer electronics (smartphones, computers, appliances, etc.)
  • Automotive electronics
  • Aerospace and defense
  • Medical devices
  • Telecommunications equipment
  • Industrial controls and sensors

Soldering Process Considerations

When transitioning to HAL lead-free solder from a SnPb soldering process, there are a few key factors to consider and optimize:

1. Temperature

The higher melting point of HAL solder requires an increase in soldering iron tip temperature, typically to 350-380??C. The exact temperature depends on the specific application and tip geometry.

2. Tip Selection

Using a soldering iron tip with good heat transfer efficiency is important for lead-free soldering. Tips with a larger contact area, such as chisel or hoof tips, work well. Specialty lead-free tips are also available.

3. Flux Selection

Lead-free solder alloys are more sensitive to oxidation, so a more active flux is often required. Rosin activated (RA) fluxes are commonly used. No-clean flux formulations are available.

4. Dwell Time

A slightly longer dwell time may be needed with lead-free solder to allow for complete wetting and joint formation. However, excessive dwell time can cause damage, so process optimization is key.

5. Joint Inspection

Lead-free solder joints can look slightly duller or grayer than SnPb joints. This is normal and not necessarily an indicator of a defective joint. Proper inspection criteria should be used.

Industry Standards for HAL Lead-Free Solder

There are several industry standards that provide specifications and guidance for the use of HAL lead-free solder:

  • IPC J-STD-006: Requirements for Electronic Grade Solder Alloys and Fluxed and Non-Fluxed Solid Solders
  • IPC J-STD-001: Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies
  • JEDEC JESD97: Marking, Symbols, and Labels for Identification of Lead (Pb) Free Assemblies, Components, and Devices
  • ANSI/J-STD-002: Solderability Tests for Component Leads, Terminations, Lugs, Terminals and Wires
  • ANSI/J-STD-003: Solderability Tests for Printed Boards

Adhering to these standards helps ensure consistency and reliability when using HAL lead-free solder in electronics manufacturing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Is HAL lead-free solder compatible with SnPb solder?

While HAL lead-free solder can be used on assemblies that were previously soldered with SnPb, mixing the two alloys in the same solder joint is not recommended. The different melting points and metallurgical properties can cause reliability issues.

2. Can I use my existing soldering iron for HAL lead-free solder?

In most cases, yes, as long as the iron can reach the higher temperatures required for lead-free soldering (around 350-380??C). You may need to use a different tip with better heat transfer efficiency.

3. How do I dispose of lead-free solder waste?

Even though HAL solder does not contain lead, it should still be disposed of responsibly to prevent release into the environment. Consult your local regulations for proper disposal methods for solder waste.

4. What is the shelf life of HAL lead-free solder?

The shelf life depends on the specific product form and flux type. Generally, solid wire or bar solder has an indefinite shelf life if stored properly. Cored wire solder with flux has a shelf life of 1-5 years depending on the flux. Solder paste has a typical shelf life of 6-12 months refrigerated.

5. Can I use HAL lead-free solder for rework and repair?

Yes, HAL solder can be used for rework and repairs on lead-free assemblies. However, if the original assembly was soldered with SnPb solder, it’s best to use SnPb for the repair to avoid mixing alloys.


HAL lead-free solder is an excellent choice for electronics manufacturers looking to transition away from lead-based solders. Its optimized composition provides good wetting, solderability, and mechanical properties, while complying with environmental regulations. By understanding the properties, benefits, and process considerations for HAL solder, manufacturers can make a successful transition to this more sustainable alternative.

As the electronics industry continues to move towards lead-free solutions, HAL solder is poised to play a significant role in enabling this important shift. Proper education, process optimization, and adherence to industry standards will be key to achieving reliable, high-quality lead-free solder joints with HAL solder.