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PCB and electronic assembly sectors are served by the IPC, a global trade organization. To ensure the quality of PCBs and PCBAs, IPC enforces a set of standards. As far as IPC standards for PCB production are concerned, the two essential standards are the IPC-A-600 and IPC-6012. In the IPC-6012 standard, solid PCBs are validated and certified to meet particular performance requirements. IPC-A-600, on the other hand, discusses PCB acceptability.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recognizes IPC as a standard-setting organization. IPC has about 300 operational standards and more than 1,000 guidelines to be followed in its library. Voluntary committees from throughout the semiconductor industry write, revise, and vote on IPC standard specifications.

What is the IPC-6012?

IPC 6012 is a standard that established and defined the quality and certification requirements for HDI and passive/active printed circuit boards. Class 1, 2, 3, and 3A wooden boards must fulfill the criteria described in these regulations.

Some Specifications of IPC-6012

  • Dimensional

Circuit boards must fulfill the IPC-6012 minimum dimensions unless otherwise stated in the specification or design.

  • Solderability

Solderability measures how quickly a metal may be wetted by molten solder. There must be a solderability test on every PCB batch. Poor solderability, as defined by IPC-6012, is a critical flaw.

  • Visual

Before a product can be released, it must undergo a visual inspection or final quality check. A visual check is performed on all panels unless a different procedure is indicated.

  • Conductor spacing and width

It is essential to know the minimal distance between neighboring copper features, referred to as the conductor width and spacing. Conductor and width spacing should typically be less than 0.007 inches in most cases. Anything less than or equal to 0.007 inches is considered subpar.

  • Surfaces of the conductor

For Class 2 and Class 3 PCB, narrow slits and nicks are permissible on voltage planes. However, their longest dimension should not exceed 1.0 mm.

Assessing the Structural Integrity of the PCB

Using IPC-6012 standards, it is possible to determine the structural integrity of a PCB. The following are some of the integrity problems that PCB manufacturers should be aware of under IPC-6012:

  • Plating strength and voids

A PCB’s hole-wall interconnections may be compromised due to issues with deposition. Eventually, the control panel may be unable to perform as expected.

  • Defects and holes in laminates

Laminate gaps and attempts to fill them are prevalent in the manufacturing of PCBs. The lack of epoxy resin in locations where this substance is normally present is referred to as a laminate hole. On the other hand, cracks in PCBs might occur as a result of high stress.

  • Delamination

During delamination, a material separates into layers, which is a sign of failure. Preventing delamination is addressed in the IPC-6012 document. Material selection is critical if you want to avoid the formation of several layers in the finished product.

  • Hatchback

To remove epoxy glue from the via hole’s sidewalls, a technique known as hatchback must be used. For this reason, a PCB’s layers are so well connected electrically.

The epoxy resin used in line with IPC-6012 specifications must be easy to remove if necessary. Epoxy resin should be made of a substance that may be easily removed if the need arises. Signals must be routed efficiently if the layers are electrically connected.

  • Lifted pads

A PCB can have raised areas. Raised pads can be caused by a mixture of physical and thermal factors. Incorrect positioning of the cushions might cause the PCB to fail.

Lifted pads are a common occurrence while trying to remove components from a board after they have been soldered in place. An overworked joint may also lead to adhesive bonding failure between the boards and the copper.

  • Plating thickness

PCB manufacturing relies heavily on the thickness of the plating. Consistency is critical when it comes to PCB. The thickness of the plating on circuit boards must meet a standard. Although there is an official standard for plating thickness, there are several popular and favoured thicknesses selected by manufacturers.

Plate thickness should be 1.57 mm, or around 0.062 inches, in accordance with IPC printed circuit board specifications. Though today’s PCBs are thinner in design and manufacturing, the thickness of the plating continues to be common for practically all formats.

  • Metal cores

This is a form of PCB that uses metal as its basis. The use of metal on the board is intended to keep heat away from some of the most important components. The iron core and the metallic heatsink are only two of the most significant components in this design.

In multilayer PCBs, the IPC-6012 standard states that the layers must be uniformly distributed on all sides of the metalcore. Using the 12-layer board as an example, the metal core must be located in the middle, with coatings at the bottom and at the top comprising of six metal layers each.

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