When you hear ICP you might think of the American hip hop duo know as the Insane Clown Posse, but rest assured we are talking about Inductively Coupled Plasma Testing (ICP Testing). While the band might bring a more colorful conversation; it will not aid you in RoHS or REACH compliance.
REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals) and RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) are the driving for force of Inductive Couple Plasma testing, otherwise know as wet chemistry testing, in the electronics world. If you sell products in the European Union it is very important that you understand what REACH and RoHS cover, and ensure that your products are compliant to them. While the testing of your products can be costly, the issues that can arise from selling nonconforming products can far outweigh the cost of testing your materials.
Know Your Tests
At this time, there are two main methods of testing for the substances listed in RoHS; ICP and X-Ray Florescence testing.
ICP testing is the most accurate method of testing for restricted substances in your products, and proving that they are RoHS compliant. The problem with ICP testing is that it can be costly, and take more time than the other method available. ICP testing is also a destructive test, and cannot be used as a screening method for a production run. It is, however, the required method of testing by many companies.
X-Ray Florescence testing (XRF) is a non-destructive testing method that can be used to test products for the heavy metals in RoHS, and is quicker and cheaper than ICP. The downside to XRF is that it is less accurate than ICP, and it cannot detect the bromines or chlorines as required for RoHS. Many companies do use XRF testing in their production lines to test materials for potential heavy metals. Samtec utilizes XRF in production to ensure lead is not present; assuring we are using lead free materials.
Providing the data
There are several companies that provide RoHS compliance testing, and do an excellent job. At the time of writing this blog, the most well known name in Third Party ICP Test Reports is SGS. SGS has become synonymous with ICP testing, and as such many of Samtec’s customers ask for the SGS test report. However, if you are looking to provide your customers with this information it would be worth checking out Intertek and LTI as well. Please note, this is not an endorsement of these companies, and is just meant to inform of the companies providing testing at this time.
Samtec does list its SGS wet chemistry test reports here.
Should you have any questions concerning REACH, RoHS, or ICP test reports, please contact PEC.Mailbox@samtec.com.