Automotive Electronics

Sustainable Plating offers Ultra-Low Risk of Whisker Growth

Bismuth (Bi)-based solution for press-fit plating applications can reduce the risk of whisker growth by a factor of over 1600 compared to tin-based solutions in automotive electronics applications

TE Connectivity announced the launch of its LITESURF plating technology designed to minimize the risk of whiskers that can short-circuit electronic components and cause potential system failure. TE’s new bismuth-based solution for press-fit applications can reduce the risk of whisker growth by a factor of over 1600 compared to traditional tin technology.

The increasing amount of electronics in vehicles has led component manufacturers to use press-fit technology for printed circuit board (PCB) connectivity. Plating is applied to the pins to assist with lubrication and protect against surface damage due to oxidization and other causes.

Traditionally, plating solutions comprised of tin (Sn) and lead (Pb), but with the global phase-out of harmful substances, pin plating solutions primarily consist of tin.

Tin does have its limitations, including the risk of whisker growth which occurs when tin film is stressed, such as during pin insertion into a PCB. Tin whiskers can grow long enough to bridge to other metal components and, in extreme cases, cause electronic components to short-circuit, leading to potential system failure. As a result, automotive component manufacturers are seeking new alternatives.

“Automotive manufacturers recognize the benefits of reliable solder-free technologies such as press-fit, but want to eliminate risk of whisker growth,” said Frank Schabert, senior manager of R&D at TE Connectivity.

“Our LITESURF plating technology is based on bismuth, a harmless substance with all the favorable characteristics of tin but with ultra-low whisker risk. It can easily replace tin on a production plating line with minimal process disruption,” added Schabert.

Learn more about TE’S LITESURF plating technology here.

TE Connectivity
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