IPC regularly publishes performance documents that regulate practices in the PCB manufacturing industry. The two most known documents are the IPC-6012 and IPC-A-600, explicitly made for bare PCBs.
If you’re confused by these two documents, this post will clear things up and discuss their differences.
The IPC 6012 came from a series of documents called “performance specifications, or performance requirements.” It establishes performance and qualification requirements for the fabrication of rigid PCB’s (Printed Circuit Boards) and defines these default requirements and specifications for all three PCB classes.
- Class 1 – general electric boards, with a minimum life, perform simple functions, such as that of a TV remote.
- Class 2 – boards for electronic service products with extended life like Television, Desktop computers, and Air Conditioners.
- Class 3 – boards with a tighter tolerance, mostly used for military, medical, and aerospace purposes.
This document is focused on the manufacturing process and the performance requirements for rigid PCBs. It is also a more detailed version of the 6011 document.
Unlike the IPC 6012, the IPC-A-600, also known as IPC-600, is a support document used purely for inspection in assembly facilities. It contains pictures and tables that inspectors can use to check for the boards’ target, acceptable, and nonconforming conditions for each class product.
This document presents a visual representation of the boards’ minimum requirements to meet before delivering to the customer. For this reason, the IPC 600 document serves as an excellent tool for inspectors to assess every aspect of the PCB as they refer to the photos on the document. They can ensure that the board has no errors and can function correctly.
The Difference Between The IPC 6012 and IPC-A-600
Side by side, the more noticeable difference between the two is that the IPC-600 contains pictures – visual representations of the requirements and actual acceptance criteria specified in 6012. They have the same conditions that manufacturers have to meet for all PCB classes. It’s just that 6012 is more focused on the production process, while the A-600 is mostly used for inspection.
Both the 6012 and 600 are applied on rigid PCB’s and are the primary guiding documents that work hand in hand to ensure the quality of the PCB’s.
IPC-6012 (CIT) Certified IPC Trainer
Sometimes, people who work for the PCB board suppliers’ customers attend the IPC 6012 training to gain insight into the requirements of rigid PCB’s. An IPC 6012 training and certification program gives valuable credentials to individuals working for an electronics manufacturing company.
Other times, a company seeks to create an IPC 6012 Certified IPC Trainer position to teach people in the assembly line about the two documents discussed in this post. They send their candidate/s to an IPC licensed IPC 6012 certification center.
After completing the IPC 6012 certification, the IPC 6012 CIT (Certified IPC Trainer) will be able to train application specialists per the IPC requirements. Moreover, knowing the IPC-6012 will help these certified professionals make performance qualification decisions. They’ll also receive all the materials which they can use to train application specialists. These materials include instructor notes, IPC 6012, 2221, A-600 qualification documents, and the CIT survival guide.