|Committee F40 and the Need for Standards on Declarable Substances in Materials
"RoHS and WEEE” Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment and waste of electrical and electronic equipment is blossoming into a global issue that not only encompasses the strict European legislation, but also Asia, Australia and, as of Jan. 1, 2007, California.
ASTM Responds to Industry Need, Creates New F40 Committee
ASTM International is a well-known international leader in creating standards relating to industry-specific needs, and it’s hard to imagine a stronger need than creating a committee dedicated to developing standards to assist industry in conforming to legislation that requires declaring substances in materials. ASTM has done exactly that, with ASTM Committee F40 on Declarable Substances in Materials. The committee is up and running, and the first standard is due to hit the industry this summer.
Declaring a substance in a material is not an easy task. The F40 committee is combining the efforts of interested industry professionals to create a set of standards that will identify the methods that should be used in the process.
Some Considerations Related to the RoHS Directive
Although the RoHS directive is setting the industry standard on how manufacturers will ultimately need to redesign their equipment, the directive lacks specific guidance. The directive is a generic demand that requires specific test methodology and procedures.
The RoHS directive forces manufacturers to do their homework. Firms must gather material declarations from suppliers, analyze materials for content of suspected substances and ultimately self-declare compliance by July 1, 2006, that their products do not contain more than the maximum permitted levels of the listed banned substances. That’s a tall order! Most manufacturers are expecting local chemical labs to test and identify the levels of concern in their materials using known methods and standards. What’s lacking here? There is a lack of test methods and standards to identify these substances correctly in electro-technical products.
Another interesting aspect is the term “homogenous material” used in the RoHS directive, which is not as simple as declaring conformance per part number. A single part number could have many homogenous materials (HMs). Is the coating on a fastener and the substrate itself considered a single HM? Not according to the RoHS directive. In fact, the coating and the substrate are considered separate HMs although it is virtually impossible to measure the amount of the coating on the substrate correctly. This situation will be addressed in the ASTM F40 set of standards.
The second hurdle for design engineers is to identify “future materials” to eliminate the need for actual material sampling. What types of plastics are involved? Are industry standard metals and alloys with or without coatings being used? Do the polymers contain cadmium for pigmentation properties? Can hexavalent chromium coatings on substrates be replaced by stainless steels or other materials? Answering these questions and others continues to prove to be a serious challenge for manufacturers and their suppliers as well.
Role of the F40 Committee
Subcommittee F40.04 on Existing Document Research/Liaison has been formed to work with the International Electrotechnical Commission and other ASTM committees to reduce the overall impact of creating new standards from scratch. In fact, many test methods are available for testing various substances in materials and the committee does not want to reinvent the wheel. Its members want to ensure that various standards committees are aware of F40’s efforts.
All in all, the group’s efforts have standard goals: To properly declare substances in materials, to support the industry without doubling efforts and ultimately create a tool for manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment to use when declaring their materials not only to authorities, but to any interested party requiring that information. //