IPC-2581 Continues to Flourish


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New processes and standards seem to be popping out of the woodwork these days. With Industry 4.0 and other initiatives coming to the forefront, now—more than ever—there is a need to start earnestly looking at what is out there and if (or how) it can be implemented to meet your technical and business goals.

For example, take board manufacturing data. For years, Gerber data has dominated as the de-facto way to provide information to bare board shops along with drill files and manual README files that need to be included to ensure that everything is clearly understood. ODB++, while also around for a while, was considered the new way to communicate; however, adoption was slow and never really caught on as a preferred way of sharing data.

Issues With Current Methodologies

Today, it takes multiple disparate files to represent bare board and assembly information. Not only does it take time to create and verify them before they go out the door, but once the downstream vendor receives the files, the data must be reformatted to enable the various machines to read the data the way they were programmed to interpret it—as they all “speak” different languages. This can require hours of manual effort. Then, each time design changes occur, the same process needs to be repeated. Add to this having to communicate with overseas suppliers, and the issues multiply.

In addition, electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) is only one piece of a much larger, project-centric definition that needs to be captured and ultimately, optimized. It does not contain all of the part information, software, and mechanical data that ultimately defines a full, working product.

There Has to Be A Better Way

Because standards adoption in this industry tends to be akin to turning around a battleship, what is often seen as new has generally already been in production for 10 years or more. Often, there are outside influences and dependencies that cause this, so most of us tend to take a “wait-and-see” approach—let others shake out the issues. And even then, we only look at adoption if the mandate comes from higher-ups in the organization. It works the way we do it now, so why change?

To read this entire article, which appeared in the September 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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