IPC standards are something you can't avoid as a reliable PCB producer. In other words, you can't boast of producing reliable PCBs without verifying the IPC standards.
That's why there are a ton of IPC standards to ensure that your product is sturdy.
So, if you're new to PCB design, it's essential to consider the IPC standards. But there's a possibility that you may face some bottlenecks along the way.
That's why we created this article to help you understand IPC standards. Plus, we made it very simple and easy to understand. Hence, you don't have to worry because we've got you covered.
So, if you're ready, let's kick start!
1. What Are IPC standards?
Before we dive into the topic, let's look at the definition of IP standards.
First off, we can't define IPC standards without understanding "IPC."
So, IPC is a global body. And it enables producers to build quality electronics backed up by proven standards.
But there's more.
Hence, these producers get certified, educated, and informed by IPC. That way, the producers don't digress from IPC standards.
Also, IPC provides public policy advocacy and market research for the producers.
So, here's the kicker.
IPC has over 4,800 member companies across the world. Plus, these members get governed by the policies of the body.
Also, the members come from every aspect of the electronics industry.
So, we see electronics, suppliers, designers, and PCB producers under the body.
But that's not all.
Authentic equipment producers and assembly firms are part of IPC.
In the end, no stakeholder in the electronics industry is missing.
Also, the body has its headquarters in Bannockburn, Illinois, United States. Plus, it has other office branches within the United States.
Other countries like China, India, Russia, and Sweden have IPC offices as well.
But there's more.
The IPC Standards
So, we'll be going in-depth on IPC standards since we now understand IPC.
The IPC standards are acceptable codes in the electronics industry. Besides, the body publishes the standards codes for all phases of production.
Hence, you'll find these codes in stages like design, assembly, packaging, etc.
By the way, IPC has above 300 operational standards. Also, it has over 1,000 standards in its library.
Furthermore, a committee of volunteers is responsible for the IPC codes. For the most part, the committee drafts, modify and creates the IPC standards.
As a result, over 3,000 electronics professionals partake in the process. As a rule, committee members can include people from all over the world. Therefore, members participate in the process via email, in-person, or teleconference.
What does the IPC Body Do (In Detail)?
First, the IPC body offers validation service programs. And they have a standards gap analysis team. So, they use their means to help producers address their production challenges. Furthermore, the body enlightens the producers on things to do to meet quality standards.
But that's not all.
The body also maintains a list of qualified producers. In short, they create it to help the public discover products that meet the IPC standards.
Besides, the association has over 110 IPC-licensed training hubs globally. Also, the body provides multimedia & online training and education resources. Plus, they host informative events, management, and technical conferences. To summarize, IPC APEX EXPO is the largest exhibition show in the US. South China is responsible for APEX, which is IPC's as well.
Also, the IPC body carries out loads of market research. Plus, they do a lot of work in environmental policy and government relations.
In conclusion, IPC is a great advocate for the electronics industry globally. And they have regulators across the globe.
Where Do You Get IPC Standard Products?
So, we must be frank with you. IPC standard products aren't free. Therefore, don't expect to get them without spending a dime.
However, you can still get a rebate when you buy from the IPC store as a member. Also, they have loads of IPC stores you can patronize. Hence, an excellent example of a verified IPC store is ourpcb.com.
2. A Brief History of IPC Standards (How It All Started)
In 1957, IPC began as the Institute for Printed Circuits. Then, six printed circuit board producers formed the body. Later in 1958, IPC created and published its first book. At that time, the book sold up to 25,000 copies. So, the name of the book is "How to design and specify printed circuits."
Next, in 1964, IPC published the pioneer version of the IPC-A-600. Thus, the body called the standard the Acceptability of Printed Boards.
By the way, this standard is STILL the primary source of visual support for bare board acceptability. And all the requirements are in the IPC-6010 series. Also, the IPC has updated and revised the series. And they have done it seven times since 1964.
Later, the body changed its name. It became the Institute for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits. Hence, this name change happened in 1977. And it was as a result of the large number of electronic assembly firms that joined the body.
So, by 1998, the body decided to stick to IPC as its official name. And this happened because a lot of people couldn't memorize the full name. Plus, there was another set of people. And they disagreed with the meaning of the words in the name.
Thus, the association made IPC the central name. But that wasn't all. They got a tagline that says, "Association Connecting Electronics Industries."
3. The Most Prevalent IPC Standards
Here are five of the most key IP standards you should know.
The body named this standard the quality and performance specification for rigid PCB. In other words, the IPC-6012 forms the criterion and performance for rigid boards.
So, the specifications apply to a single side & multiple boards. It is also ideal for metalcore printed boards. Plus, active or passive embedded circuity printed boards aren't left out.
3.2 IPC-A- 600
Like we earlier mentioned, IPC-A-600 is the acceptability of printed boards. It's also known as IPC-600. This standard creates a criterion for every product class. Also, it defines the necessary and perfect conditions for every PCB.
The IPC-A-610 standard is the acceptability of electronic assemblies. Hence, it creates the criterion for end product acceptance. Plus, it's one of the most popular standards used by the IPC body.
This standard describes the criteria required to produce quality soldered interconnections. Also, it tells the method and material involved in the process. In short, the standard focuses on process control. And it sets requirements for electronic products.
This standard is responsible for the rework of electronic assemblies or repair. It also monitors the modification of PCB and electronic assemblies.
4. Classifications and Terms Used in IPC Standards
It’s vital to pay attention to IPC terms.
It’s because each word means different things. Plus, it comes with two selected terms. So, you’ll find these terms in the IPC-A-620 standard.
Must or shall: if you see any of these terms, it means one thing. The requirement discussed is compulsory. Thus, it applies to all product classes.
Should: this word shows recommendation. Also, it’s useful for reflecting procedures. Besides, it’s ideal for general industry practices for guidance.
Now you understand the terms used in IPC standards, so let’s proceed to the classes.
4.1 Classes of Electronics Based on IPC Standards
When it comes to electronics production, PCBs are in three classes. Hence, each category shows the quality of the circuit board.
So, the classes are:
IPC Class 1 – General Electronic Products
Class one is where you find every day general electronics products.
Besides, the products in this class have boards. Plus, they have the lowest quality requirement. Therefore, they usually have a short life cycle.
However, there’s more.
The primary requirement of class one products is the function quality. Thus, the end-product operation is more crucial.
Also, it’s one of the most lenient classes. That’s why it allows for potential defects. So, a great example of its products are smartphones, toys, etc.
IPC Class 2 – Dedicated Service Electronic Products
Class two are electronics long life-cycle and continued performance. Also, class two products require uninterrupted service. So, producers ensure the products don’t fail during operation.
In other words, products in this category are acceptable. Plus, they have a long life cycle. So, a good tip here is to know the class you want. Afterward, you can pursue the board designs.
That way, you can easily design your products for a specific class. Examples of products in this category are microwave, televisions, etc.
IPC Class 3 – High-Performance Electronic Products
IPC class three consists of electronics that are mission-critical. In other words, class 3 electronic products use circuit boards. Plus, they follow strict guidelines.
So, the IPC class three products are high-reliability electronics. Also, they have a long life cycle with fail-proof quality. So, examples of its products are military radar, pacemakers, etc.
4.2 Additional Terms Used in IPC Standard
Here are additional ones you may like to know. They are:
An acceptance test helps you to know if a product is acceptable. Plus, a vendor or a buyer must agree with it.
Assembly is the joining of several parts or subassemblies.
A critical operation is a procedure of an entire process. So, it usually has a massive impact on the quality of the finished product.
This term refers to a combination of electronic components. It’s also known as or a microchip. Usually, they fabricate it as a single unit. By doing so, it produces a microcircuit function.
Resist is a coating material. Hence, its function is to protect certain areas of a pattern. Also, it’s better during testing or production.
Flexural strength is also called bend strength. Also, it’s the resistance of a material against deformation.
Besides, here’s the kicker.
The flexural strength shows you something vital. It shows the needed force to break a test sample. Plus, it must be of a specific diameter before it works.
5. Why Is IPC Standards Important in PCB Production?
IPC standards keep producers in check. That is, it helps them build reliable and safe PCB boards.
Producers pay attention to the details of the production standards. That way, they maintain quality throughout the process. Thus, they improve the production process. And by doing so, they meet customers’ expectations.
The IPC standard also supports producers in the following ways:
1. Improved Product Quality and Reliability
IPC standards take effect from the beginning of the production process. So, it means one thing. The final product will perform better and last longer. Also, this translates to high quality and reliability.
With IPC standards, the same language flows in and out. As a result, there’s a reduced risk of miscommunication. So, people can’t mix up the terminologies. Plus, they can easily detect the life cycle of an electronic device.
If producers follow IPC standards, they won’t need to do quality checks. So, it helps to reduce the testing cost.
It’s quite tricky for producers to maintain consistency in quality. But, it’s perfect when they follow and maintain IPC certification. That way, the products can maintain quality. Also, the producer can boost their customers’ satisfaction with consistency.
Retains the Reputation
Engineers in the electronic industry are familiar with IPC standards. And it’s because IPC is internationally recognized.
So here’s the thing.
Even newly employed staff can maintain your reputation. Why? It’s because there are standards to follow.
We can't stress the IPC standards. Plus, there are necessities every PCB producer needs to meet the standards.
So, if you're into PCB production, you always need to meet the IP standards.
Besides, you'd be gaining a lot by meeting these standards. How? You'd be boosting your brand trust. As a result, you'll get more customers patronizing your firm.
So, if you want to get more clarification about this topic, feel free to reach us.