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27 October 2008


Murex Welding Products reminds everyone using arc welding equipment that it is one of the classes of product for which compliance with the RoHS Directive  (on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment 2002/95/EC)  has been compulsory in Europe since 1 July 2006.  Arc welding equipment sold in Europe must not contain more than the permitted levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and certain flame retardants, though there are exemptions specified in the RoHS Directive.


The ESAB Group, of which Murex Welding Products is a member, has invested a great deal of time, resources and money to ensure that all its relevant products comply.  However, given the costs associated with this process, and the strict quality control systems that are necessary to ensure ongoing compliance, Murex says it is probable that some low-cost arc welding equipment from other manufacturers may not actually comply, despite the equipment bearing labels or other markings that imply compliance. Not only is it illegal for non-compliant products to be placed on the market, but it could also cause problems for customers in the long run.


For example, if a customer buys a machine and the manufacturer is forced to withdraw that model from the market shortly afterwards, obtaining spare parts could prove difficult if not impossible.  Moreover, if the manufacturer is prepared to label a non-compliant product as being compliant with the RoHS Directive, that same manufacturer may also be prepared to cut corners elsewhere - perhaps in relation to electromagnetic interference or even safety.


To ensure full RoHS compliance for the Murex product range a number of measures had to be taken. These included the elimination of conventional lead-tin solder from the circuit boards and replacing it with an alternative.  As the commercial alternatives tend to have a higher melting point, and some of the components on the original printed circuit boards could not withstand the higher processing temperatures, many of the printed circuit boards had to be redesigned to use new components.


The welding machines also incorporate components and sub-assemblies bought in from other suppliers, and these had also to be RoHS-compliant.  A comprehensive supplier audit was performed to check that suppliers were also conforming fully.  Ongoing quality assurance systems needed to be in place to ensure continuing compliance, especially with regard to bought-in components and sub-assemblies.


Given the current economic climate, it is understandable that buyers of welding equipment do not want to pay any more than they have to.  But buyers should be aware that it is neither easy nor cheap for manufacturers to comply with all relevant Directives, Regulations and standards.  Buying non-compliant low-cost equipment could therefore prove expensive in the long run, especially if an injury results from the equipment failing to comply with safety standards.

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