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IPC generates many specifications related to printed circuit board fabrication, assembly processes and inspection criteria. The intent of the following article is to describe how the documents come about and how they are generated by providing an overview of the latest changes in IPC-A-610, Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies, hereafter identified as 610. Additionally, there are online courses available that will go through each one of these changes in details.
Why are new revisions created? Can’t IPC just issue updates to the existing revision? Who defines what the changes are going to be and who approves of those changes? Why can’t they make changes for all the new technologies available? And the best question of all: Why does my product have some conditions that are not covered in the documents and specifications?
Taking just one document, 610, and trying to answer those questions will hopefully provide a window for customers, users, and manufacturers to see where these documents come from and how they are put together to upgrade the products being made, and hopefully improve the quality of those products.
Every five years, a new revision is created for all the specifications from IPC. This was mandated for all ANSI approved documents. Since many IPC documents were ANSI-approved, they had to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, in our case five years. There are multitudes of implications with the release of new revisions. They include, but are not limited to: contract negotiations, purchasing of new specifications, and development of new certification training programs to cover the requirements of those documents for the trainers and the specialist. This is all accomplished by attending the semiannual meetings of IPC and participating in the task group meetings, where all the new information is presented, all the comments are reviewed to correct deficiencies in the existing revision, and all conflicting information is reviewed to verify that complementary documents are in agreement for criteria information.
Once all the information is reviewed and accepted by the committee, a draft is sent to the IPC community for review and comment. Once again there is a review and discussion on the comments, and subsequently another draft is created and the process repeats itself until all the comments are resolved and a new document is published.
Creating updates to the documents is also handled in the same fashion, and since the comments are considered critical, the review period is shorten to enhance the speed to which the approval cycle is made and then the documents are published for the user community. This is a relatively short process as it only addresses critical issues to the main body of the document.
So, what defines the changes? First, comments from the user community as found on the comment sheet in the back of every IPC specification. Second, submittal from the component manufacturers on new components being introduced for new technology applications. Finally, corrections needed from editorial and technical mishaps in the existing documents.
To read this entire article, which appeared in the June 2015 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.