IPC Plating Sub-committee 4-14: Surface Finish Specifications

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IPC specifications are reference documents to be called out by designers and OEMs. Designers may take exception with one or more items in the specification to ensure that the product meets the requirements of its intended use. The acronym AAUBUS (as agreed upon between user and supplier) is part of any specification.

Specifications are consensus documents. They are agreed upon by a panel of interested industry participants composed of suppliers, manufacturers, assembly houses (CMs) and end-users. The IPC Plating Sub-committee 4-14 is no exception.

When there is consensus, the committee documents it in a specification. In cases where no consensus is readily arrived at, the committee undergoes its own testing in what is commonly referred to as a round-robin (RR) study. In an RR investigation, an agreed-upon test vehicle (TV) is designed and manufactured. TVs are then sent around to the different suppliers who deposit the agreed upon thicknesses to be investigated.  The TVs are collected and the deposit thicknesses are verified and documented. The TVs are then coded. The TVs are sent around again to the different testing sites that test for the desired attribute like soldering, contacting and wire bonding capabilities of different finish thicknesses. The data is then collected, sorted out and documented. At this point, a new attempt at consensus is made and upon arrival, the thickness specification is set.

A draft is prepared after consensus is complete. The draft is then posted for peer review. Any IPC member can review the document and suggest technical or editorial changes. All comments are then reviewed and all issues resolved before the final draft is issued. At this time the IPC takes on the task of publishing the document in its final format.

The IPC Plating Sub-committee 4-14 has been active since 2001. It is co-chaired by me and Gerard O’Brien of ST and S Group. The IPC liaison is Tom Newton. The sub-committee has an extensive member list composed of OEMs, contract assemblers, board manufacturers, and chemical suppliers, as well as labs and consultants.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the April issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.


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