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IPC has announced the release of IPC-A-600H and its companion document – the C revision of IPC-6012, Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards.

IPC-A-600H features 95 new and updated photos and illustrations, pushing the total number of images to 326.

These images are said to help inspectors understand the difference between anomalies that can impact performance and lifetime and those that are cosmetic blemishes.

John Perry, technical project manager at IPC and staff liaison to the IPC-A-600 Task Group, said: ‘Some laminate imperfections such as measles are categorised as anomalies, but they can be acceptable.

‘Other laminate imperfections that may look like measles may be instances of delamination that can propagate under thermal stress, and therefore require degrees of acceptability,’ he added.

In addition to photos, the standard offers new and expanded coverage on topics such as solder mask coverage, etchback, plated-hole wall integrity, via fill and flexible circuits.

The enhancements help board manufacturers and customers agree on the quality of boards.

For developers who must determine plating thicknesses and other parameters, IPC-A-600H addresses complex issues such as copper cap-plating of vias and sufficient copper-wrap plating.

With this update, IPC-A-600H also expands its reach to help suppliers of flexible circuits.

Criterion for how much a flex circuit can be bent or folded is now available.

The document also addresses coverlays that are sometimes used to protect flex circuits.

Adhesive coverlays keep contaminants from interaction with the active circuits, so cracks in the coverlay can have a major impact on reliability.

Perry said these additions to the flexible circuits section of the standard originated from an IPC Task Group in China.

Determining how many boards and/or test coupons to check is an issue addressed by IPC-A-600’s companion document, IPC-6012C.

A document used for specifying circuit boards, IPC-6012 details frequency of inspection, instructing how many panels must be examined within a production lot for a given performance class to ensure quality.

When OEMs request boards built to 6012 specifications, board-makers know precisely what to provide.

While IPC-6012C is used by engineers who specify parts, IPC-A-600H is used by the shop-floor inspectors, who ensure that boards destined for end systems live up to the requirements established by those engineers.

Both documents were updated at the same time, ensuring that all data used by inspectors represents the industry’s latest techniques.

Together, the two documents are said to provide a major advance that will help companies improve quality without dramatically increasing the amount of time spend on inspection.

As OEMs move closer to zero defect levels the standards will help fabricators and assemblers meet ever-tightening requirements.

The first copies of IPC-6012C, Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards, and IPC-A-600H, Acceptability of Printed Boards, will be available for purchase in the IPC Bookstore at IPC Apex Expo.

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