IPC Standards for PCB Assembly
There are many IPC standards related to PCB assembly, but IPC-A-610 is the most common one which divides into 3 classes. In this post, we’ll take a look at the basic principles so you can determine which is suitable for your own products.
Class 1: This is the most lenient when it comes to allowing potential defects. It won’t be expected to last very long and often, has to be assembled to a specific price – usually translating to "as cheap as possible", while ensuring it still functions as expected.
Class 2: It is the middle one. This is typically requested for non-critical electronic assemblies where longer term reliability is desirable, rather than essential. Class 2 does allow for a certain degree of imperfection like surface mount components placed slightly off pad.
Class 3: This is the highest standard, all neat and tidy and shiny, and aimed at more critical PCB assemblies. In some cases, it may be necessary to slow surface mount machines down a bit to achieve the required placement accuracy, or make allowance for higher degrees of scrap.
To achieve IPC standards seriously, it is better to have in-house IPC trainers who themselves will be externally re-certified. Hope you are clear on the basic principles that separate the three classes of the standard now, so that you can specify the correct class for your PCB assembly and have an understanding of what the results are likely to be.