“Technology’s Future Comes Together” was the theme of this year's IPC APEX EXPO, which is quite suitable during these changing times. I guess we all need to come together, especially the automotive industry. The automotive industry has been characterized by individualism for years when it comes to standards for production. All major car brands and leading suppliers to these car makers have carried out their own PCB standards. Very few of them cooperate to make life easier for the PCB supplier that may deliver to several of these demanding customers.
Many the automotive brands carry out their own requirements not only to the final product but also to the production and process flow. Each one has their own ideas on how to secure zero defects.
The reason why my focus is targeted on the automotive industry is due to the newly released and revised IPC-6012DA-WAM1: Automotive Applications Addendum to IPC-6012D, Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards. As chair of the task group, it would be an understatement to say that this standard is close to my heart.
A Never-ending Task
The idea behind the automotive addendum was to find a consensus in the jungle of corporate specifications—a common document describing basic PCB requirements for the automotive industry. IPC-6012DA was published in April of 2016, and the work with the amendment started in April 2017, which is now released. I am very excited to present the addendum. The changes of the revised version are of substantial character. The biggest change in WAM1 is going from special automotive requirements for both IPC Class 2 and 3 to become automotive Class-3 requirements.
Among the enhanced features and requirements in IPC-6012DA WAM1, you find a recommendation to use automated optical inspection (AOI), a requirement to use AOI on all layers, a measurable requirement for lifted land after thermal stress, and strengthened requirements to wicking. However, working on standards is a never-ending task. The task group met for new discussions, revisions, and further developments of the IPC-6012-DA standard.
Standards Need to Go Hand-in-hand
So, what does the theme of IPC APEX EXPO 2019 mean? For me, “Technology’s Future Comes Together” when standards are in line with new technology, and go hand-in-hand into the future. Still, to obtain this, we need some changes—or rather, additions—from IPC. Creating, improving, and voting standards forward has no effect at all if they are left in the bottom of the drawer. They need to be used, implemented, and embraced by the industry.
Still, several standards working on their own is no solution either. What we really need is for IPC to develop a parent standard or a work manual supplying the correct guidelines for usage of all standards in the automotive industry, which should provide the automotive industry the opportunity to contribute to further development and make the standards functional.
Today, there are three standards for the automotive industry: one balloted through and released—the IPC 6012-DA—while the Automotive Addendum Task Group 7-31BV and the 5-21M Cold Joining/Press Fit Task Group are still a work in progress, and work there will be. This was my third time attending IPC APEX EXPO, so not feeling like a rookie anymore, I enjoyed meeting old and new friends, working in the task groups, and widening my knowledge.
IPC: Goliath vs. David?
However, some seem to look upon IPC as an unreachable organization with a Goliath versus David feeling. Personally, I do not recognize these opinions. I find Goliath to be the friendly and welcoming giant towards new opinions and suggestions. Running your cases through the IPC system and using the advantages of it will eventually lead to improvements and constructive innovation.
A good example is how we in the medical task group faced the challenge with micro PCBs—a designation not working for these devices. We had constructive discussions within the group, but in the end, found a more suitable designation that suits both IPC and the medical device applications industry better. If you gather the right people together, utilize the strength of IPC, and dare challenge the industry, you will get results.
We all know that change comes by action; sitting still and keeping your mouth shut creates no action. IPC APEX EXPO is the perfect spot to network and raise your opinions and concerns in the various forums arranged. We all benefit from networking in the industry. I cannot emphasize the value of networking enough; after all, several voices are stronger than one. Further, I was amazed by the energy from the main keynote speech by Jared Cohen last year talking about big technology disruptions. Jared gave a very engaging speech focusing on how the digital revolution is a game changer. This year I was prepped and ready for “Accelerating and Disrupting Innovation: The Tesla Story” presented by JB Straubel, chief technical officer (CTO) and co-founder of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. The future is definitely electric, innovative, and moving fast.
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.