IPC inspection guidelines exist to ensure the proper functioning of electronics and the safety and wellbeing of the people using them. The Acceptable Quality Level (also known as the Acceptance Quality Limit or AQL) dictates the range of the number of defective components that is considered acceptable when random sampling during inspection and the maximum number of defective units that are acceptable before a batch gets rejected.

There are two major documents that are used throughout the industry during quality inspection. The IPC-A-600 represents the visual interpretation of minimum requirements set forth in printed board specifications. It is not intended to be used as a performance specification for manufacture or procurement, but rather should be used as a tool for internal and external inspections for printed circuit boards.

The IPC-6012 establishes and defines qualification and performance requirements for the creation of rigid boards. There are three performance classes of boards that are determined and assigned by the designer by the end use of the product.

Class 1 products are defined as those that have a limited life and the requirements of which are simply the function of the end use of the product. An example would be a garage door opener. Class 2 products are ones where continued performance, extended life, and uninterrupted service are desirable but not required, such as the motherboard of your computer. Class 3 products are those where continued high performance and performance on demand are critical. Failure of these products are not acceptable, as the product must work when required. Examples of class 3 products include flight controls, defense systems, and medical applications.

Blackfox offers courses in IPC class 3 solutions, including class 3 soldering, and offers class 3 certification, as well as training in the IPC-A-600 and IPC-6012. A premier technical training center, Blackfox’s courses are appropriate for both novice and seasoned electronics systems technicians. To learn more about class 3, check out Blackfox today.


Brisette, Peter. (2015). Introduction to IPC Inspection Guidelines. Bay Area Circuits.