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Elasto Proxy's Sealing Solutions Blog

Elasto Proxy's Sealing Solutions Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about the design and manufacturing of rubber and plastic parts and products. In addition to regular content from Elasto Proxy, you'll hear from companies across the rubber and plastics industry.

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RoHS Compliance and Rubber Products

Posted June 23, 2016 4:55 PM by Doug Sharpe

Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) isn’t just about wires, chips, switches, and circuit boards. RoHS compliance involves component-level rubber parts, too.

Companies that do business in European Union (EU) member states need to comply with RoHS, an EU directive that restricts the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products and equipment. RoHS compliance won’t ensure your success in Europe, but non-compliance can have serious consequences. In addition to fines, penalties, and lost sales, businesses that violate RoHS requirements may have their products returned by customs officials.

To avoid RoHS violations, product designers and material buyers need to understand current and future EU requirements. Because RoHS is a series of directives rather than a single directive, designers and buyers need to account for the original RoHS directive (2002/95/EC), RoHS 2 (2011/65/EU), and RoHS requirements that will take effect in July 2019. As a global provider of sealing and insulation solutions, Elasto Proxy can help you to achieve and maintain RoHS compliance at the component level.

Current RoHS Compliance

RoHS, an abbreviation for Restriction of Hazardous Substances, is designed to restrict the use of substances that harm human health and result in toxic electronic waste. Today, RoHS bans the use of the following materials.

  • Lead (Pb)
  • Mercury (Hg)
  • Cadmium (Cd)
  • Hexavalent chromium (CrVI)
  • Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB)
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE)
  • Decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca BDE)
  • Perfluorooctane sulphonates (PFOS)

At first glance, some of these substances seem far removed from rubber products. For example, the lead that’s used in lead-tin solder helps attach electronic components to printed circuit boards while forming an electrical connection. Yet lead can also be used in the compounding of rubber. In fact, some of the worst cases of lead poisoning have involved rubber compounding or mixing.

Mercury, another toxic element, is used in switches and relays, common components in thermostats and control panels. Historically, however, mercury was also used to provide a strong red or brown color to rubber. Cadmium, a common material in rechargeable batteries, computer screens, and printers, can be used as a pigment in black rubber. Hexavalent chromium is used in hard-chrome plating, but is also be found in some plastics.

Future RoHS Compliance

Engineers and buyers need to remember that RoHS is an evolving set of EU directives. By July 2019, companies that do business in EU member states must also eliminate the following hazardous substances from electrical and electronic products and equipment.

  • Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
  • Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Di-isobutyl Phthalate (DiBP)

Known as plasticizers, these chemicals make rubber and plastic more flexible and harder to break. They’re also used in bonding or joining applications. Some have flame-retardant properties. DEHP’s many uses include sealants and adhesives. DBP adds flexibility to rubber, but is also used in some films. DiBP is chemically similar to DBP and found in some lacquers. BBP is added to polyurethane adhesives as well as some polyurethane rubbers and acrylic-based polymers.

If your company manufactures, sells, or distributes electrical or electronic products and equipment, the time to start thinking about eliminating DEHP, BBP, DBP, and DiBP is now. July 2019 is still several years away, but your part drawings and specifications may need to change to meet the latest RoHS requirements. If you’re planning to do business in Europe before then, it’s important to ensure that the rubber parts that you’re using are RoHS compliant

RoHS Compliant Rubber Products from Elasto Proxy

With 28 member states and a total population of more than 500 million, the European Union is a market that most international companies can’t afford to ignore. By working with an experienced supply chain partner like Elasto Proxy, you can help minimize the risks of RoHS non-compliance. To learn more about how we can help you, please contact us.

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