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One of the prime considerations for outer packaging and void fill materials is the environment

component has been placed and soldered. A latent device failure caused by inadequate packaging can seriously damage a customer's reputation if it results in equipment failure in the field.

Static dissipative bags are

used to pack and shipmillions of electronic components each year, fromsmall components to large sub-assemblies. The static protection they afford is adequate for themajority of components, however the polythene fromwhich they are mademeans they do not provide an environmentally sound solution.

In amove to provide a

'greener' alternative, Farnell, which previously shipped around 3.6million components each year in standard polythene bags, has developed biodegradable alternatives. Static charge decay and surface resistivity are equivalent to the polythene versions, but the new bags can be safely disposed in composting facilities and are fully biodegradable to the EN13432 European standard.

Ready for anything

Formany components the packaging in which they are shippedmust also be compatible with pick-and-place or automated assembly procedures. For devices such as capacitors and resistors thismeans supplying product taped and reeled. For leaded ICs, dual-in-line (DIL) plastic tubes were standard, but asmore IC devicesmove to surfacemount formats, waffle trays that hold devices securely in place have become prevalent.

Additional criteria that electronic

component packaging should ideally satisfy is to facilitate easy and clear identification, plus easy counting and storage. Add to this the need to use environmentally sound materials and processes wherever possible, and you have a lengthy and comprehensive set of demands.

Reels on whichmany leaded passive components are supplied

are not recyclable but they are re-usable if returned to the device manufacturer. The same is true of waffle trays and IC DIL tubes.

ES Dec10 pgStatic protection is equivalent to polythene versions but F

arnell's new bags can be composted

Reels, waffle trays and tubes all lend themselves to labelling to allow easy identification of their contents, the labels often include bar-codes that can be scanned byMRP software to provide stock levelmonitoring, traceability and trigger re-ordering.

Farnell's Peel Packaging aims to satisfy all these

requirements, including providing an environmentally sound solution. It gives static,moisture and physical damage protection to components in transit, storage and handling. Peel Packaging places each individual device in a protective recyclable and biodegradable plastic cell, sealed with an anti-static lid. The peel-off lid can bemarked to identify the part number, batch code,manufacturer, quantity and any other information that may be useful to the customer. Peel Packaging also facilitates quick and easy stock counting.

Environmental policies

Waff le trays are replacing DIL tubes as a means to supply ICs ready for pick-and-place assembly

and corporate social responsibility are becoming more important when it comes to winning and maintaining business. Packaging methods, materials and processes are an important element of a company achieving its objectives to reduce

Peel packaging protects individual components in a recyclable, plastic cell sealed with an anti-static lid

environmental impact: the electronics component sector is no exception. Farnell, for example, has set and published its CSR targets and results for several years, taking a structured approach to reducing its environmental impact year-on-year. Changes to how product is packed and shipped can help these goals.

With the trend for smaller electronic components set to continue, the challenge

of creating packaging to protect them will get tougher. From a consumer point-of-view, the benefits of shrinking component geometries and the integration of enhanced functionality in tiny devices is all good in terms of developing exciting end products. Component manufacturers and distributors however, will have to continue to come up with new ideas to ensure that these devices arrive at their final destination undamaged and fit for purpose. December 2010 | 29

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