Electronics Assembly Standards IPC J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610 Updated to Cover More Advanced Technologies

By Terry Costlow, IPC online editor

Two of the industry’s most important electronics assembly standards, IPC J-STD-001, Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies and IPC-A-610, Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies, have been updated to include technical advances including solder on plastic packages, conformal coatings and two new terminal types. They have also been revised to provide clarity to requirements where users found the language confusing or not well defined.

The standards are often used as companion documents. While there is much overlap in their criteria, they each have unique purposes. IPC J-STD-001F is a material and process requirements standard and is critical for use during manufacturing. IPC-A-610F is a post-assembly acceptance standard used to ensure that electronic assemblies meet acceptance requirements. The task groups that develop these documents consist largely of the same volunteers.

The task group members prepared the revisions in response to changes in technology. As these revisions were developed, members stressed the importance of using the best information available.

“In data we trust was the mantra whenever we considered making technical changes,” said Teresa Rowe, IPC’s director of assembly technology.

One of the major changes targeted the growing use of plastic packages. In the past, solder could not touch components because of the potential to cause a future failure. As the size of these packages shrinks, it’s increasingly difficult to avoid contact while maintaining sufficient solder to assure a reliable connection.

“We didn’t find failures when solder touched the plastic,” Rowe said. “There was a lot of discussion on this topic. I’m sure we’ll see many more discussions on this when the standards are revised in the future. People will study this and share their results with the task groups.”

The revisions also include new surface mount technologies. P-style terminals are now included, as are Butt/I terminals that are solder charged. The section on conformal coatings was another chapter that saw significant changes.

“We revised the way we look at conformal coatings, providing new information on coating thickness, where we now recognize that it will vary around the components,” Rowe said. “We also looked at bubbles and voids, expanding our criterion for acceptance, and we included a section on transparent coatings.”

When IPC standards are updated, the language usually evolves in response to users’ questions. IPC is a global association, and in these two updates, a major goal was to improve readability for those who are new to the technology and to make it easier to translate the standards when required. Task group members also considered issues that have confused users in the past.

“We’re always trying to understand what makes it easy for people in the workforce to understand the documents,” Rowe said. “We explain many things and refer people to IPC-HDBK-001 and to IPC-AJ-820 assembly and joining handbook for more information if they don’t understand some things.”

IPC-A-610 and IPC J-STD-001 are now available in the IPC online bookstore at www.ipc.org/onlinestore.