Ask the Experts
July 23, 2007 - Updated
July 24, 2007 - Originally Posted

Intermetallic Spalling

What exactly is intermetallic spalling? I am looking for more information on what spalling may do to a lead free solder joint life and strength.


Expert Panel Responses

Spalling typically refers to delamination of a surface layer with some degree of curvature. I have not heard that term used in regards to intermetallics. If you can give me some more detail, I can provide some more feedback.

Dr. Craig D. Hillman
CEO & Managing Partner
DfR Solutions
Dr. Hillman's specialties include best practices in Design for Reliability, strategies for transitioning to Pb-free, supplier qualification, passive component technology and printed board failure mechanisms.

Intermetallic spalling is usually used to describe the break up and migration of the secondary tin copper intermetallic into the solder joint. Since the predominant fatigue failure of lead free solder joints can be between the primary and secondary intermetallic layers spalling has the potential to have a significant impact in the overall performance of the joint. For this reason there is substantial efforts being made to eliminate or at least limit the formation of the secondary intermetallic and thus enhance the overall performance of the solder joint.

Doug Dixon
Douglass Dixon is the Chief Marketing Officer for 360 BC Group, a marketing agency with offices throughout the US. 360 BC specializes in consulting and implementing successful marketing programs that utilize the latest in marketing, sales and technology strategies. As an electronics veteran, Dixon has worked in the industry for over 30 years for companies like Henkel, Universal Instruments, Camelot Systems, and Raytheon. Dixon's electronics industry experience includes a broad skill set that includes engineering, field service, applications, product management and marketing communications expertise.
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