10/19/2010, Irvine, California


Sustainability Commitment A Key Driver for Product Development

There’s a lot of talk about sustainability these days. While some firms have truly embraced a plan to drive toward more environmentally responsible products and operations, many still haven’t adopted sustainability objectives as part of their corporate culture. For Henkel, the former is most assuredly the case. In fact, Henkel’s sustainability strategy encompasses the whole of Henkel Corporation and its entire value chain.

The company has placed its sustainability initiatives as some of its most important and aggressive goals moving forward and sees this responsible position as a key differentiator among competitors by being able to offer added value to customers and consumers.

By living up to its promise to meet the needs of people today through Henkel’s brands and technologies without compromising development opportunities of future generations, the company takes its corporate social responsibility role very seriously. As a result, all new products developed by Henkel are designed to contribute to sustainable development in at least one of the following focal areas: energy and climate, water and wastewater, materials and waste, health and safety, and social progress.

For Henkel’s Electronics Assembly division, this corporate model for sustainable product development has proven to be an innovation driver and is already firmly rooted in its innovation processes. Take, for example, Henkel’s work in halogen-free product development. Though any legislation officially banning halides has yet to be defined or implemented, Henkel has proactively begun testing of existing commercialized products and aggressive development of new materials to meet future requirements while offering environmentally safe alternatives for many of today’s applications. The materials leader’s halogen-free portfolio encompasses materials in all classes from leading Chipbonder adhesives through to encapsulants, conformal coatings, potting materials and solder pastes. Among these, soldering materials are arguably some of the more challenging products for which to effectively design halogen-free. As many of the activators used in flux that enable good wetting performance and solderability currently contain halogen, removing these from solder pastes presents materials scientists with the challenge of doing so while still maintaining excellent performance – especially in lead-free environments. For epoxy adhesive systems removing halogens from any material introduces added costs, as the resin systems therefore become more process-intensive to produce. In fact, many materials suppliers may not even be able to source these cleaner resin systems. However, Henkel’s global presence and supply chain relationships ensure that clean resin sources will not be a limiting factor.

In keeping with Henkel’s corporate sustainability goals, the company has consciously decided to push beyond the most common halogen-free standards (900 ppm chlorides, 900 ppm bromides or a 1500 ppm combined total) to deliver materials with “non detectable” (ND) halogen levels. This means that no halides have been deliberately added to Henkel’s halogen-free materials. While some are content to merely conform to the current designated acceptable levels, Henkel believes it is its responsibility to raise the bar. While still much debate regarding halogen-free materials and their inevitable added costs remains to be had, Henkel is pushing forward with a sustainable solution for customers who wish to pursue this approach ahead of any official legislation.

Of course, halogen-free development is but one example of the many ways in which Henkel is upholding its sustainability commitment. Several other Henkel products deliver environmental responsibility through their ability to reduce energy spending or remove process steps to decrease the waste stream. Hysol UF3800TM underfill, for example, flows fast at room temperature and cures quickly at low temperature, thus eliminating substrate pre-heat requirements and lowering cure temperature which results in significant energy savings. Plus, Hysol UF3800 also reduces scrap and waste as it is a reworkable material.

The elimination of unnecessary process steps also helps Henkel customers meet their sustainability goals. Products such as Hysol FF6000TM epoxy flux and MacromeltTM low pressure molding materials are doing just that. Hysol FF6000 combines flux functionality and underfill protection in a single product. The reflow curable formulation provides the fluxing action required to form a solder joint and the underfill-like protection needed to provide improved in-field reliability – all in a single material for use with today’s larger BGA and CSP devices as well as emerging package-on-package configurations. Devices that require encapsulation can benefit from Henkel’s Macromelt low pressure molding solution – a one-step, user-friendly alternative to costly, messy, multi-step potting compounds.

Other examples of Henkel’s products that are evidence of the company’s efforts toward environmental consciousness include VOC-free, UV-curable conformal coating materials that reduce drying times and often-harmful fumes; VOC-free fluxes; low temperature curing underfills; one component epoxy adhesives that require only standard refrigeration as opposed to -40°C storage; and many, many others.    Henkel’s pioneering efforts to develop products that adhere to the company’s strict sustainability goals ensure that its materials offer superior performance, are safe and go a long way toward avoiding unnecessary harm to people and the environment.