Using automation for high-quality soldering of printed circuit boards
When viewed from a macro level, the process of building a PCBA may seem fairly straightforward: you create a graphic of how it should look and send it off to a manufacturer(s) who builds it for you. Of course, those who understand what’s involved know that the process is anything but simple. There are multiple professionals, software tools, and equipment types used in designing, fabricating, assembling, and testing PCBAs before they can be utilized in any product or application for most boards.
It could be a very long and futile discussion to determine which part of the process is the most important. However, no board can function, at least not reliably, without a quality soldering process, which is the primary focus of the manufacturing PCB assembly stage. A quality soldering process is essential whether your boards will be used in aerospace systems or telecommunications systems. Automation is typically used for consistent quality soldering. There are specific standards to ensure that all boards meet minimum requirements. Standards such as IPC’s A-610H and J-STD-001H provide guidance and specifications to ensure that your assembled boards by a certified CM will be of high quality.
Let’s take a look at these crucial standards, including the new H revision for each and how to ensure the soldering quality of your telecommunications PCBAs meets the requirements.
IPC-A-610 and J-STD-001 PCB Assembly Standards
Whether your company designs and/or develops circuit boards or is an OEM, it is beneficial to be familiar with the standards (shown in the figure below) that guide your product’s low-volume development or high-volume production.
IPC Standards for PCBA design, fabrication, assembly and testing.
The color-coded standards listed in the center column of the graphic above are the most prevalent and should be known based on pertinence for your product(s). These standards are classified as they should be utilized: for design (green), fabrication (blue) and assembly (yellow). The first and third columns provide standards that are limited in scope but applicable to the primary color-coded standards.
As shown above, IPC-A-610 and J-STD-001 are the primary standards for circuit board assembly (IPC-A-620 deals with wire harnesses and cable assemblies, which are not typically used for telecommunications boards today). Although there is some overlap with these two standards, they have different objectives as described below.
The IPC-A-610H: Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies Standard
This standard defines criteria to be used to assess the acceptability of manufactured PCB assemblies.
- Major Provisions
- Soldering requirements for through-hole technology (THT) and surface mount devices (SMDs); including limitations on anomalies.
- Component mounting requirements, including orientation, connections, spacing, etc.
- Terminal requirements, including conductors, insulation, soldering, etc.
- Acceptable silkscreen marking and labeling.
- Conformal coating and cleanliness provisions.
- What’s New in the H Revision?
More countries (from 11 to 29) were involved in creating the revision. Additionally, ESD was made more prominent by moving it to a separate appendix. Circuit board assembly versus cable and wire harnesses was also separated. Another significant change is the removal of all target conditions.
The J-STD-001H: Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies Standard
The objective of this standard is to describe process requirements that will result in acceptable soldered electrical and electronic assemblies for the designer and/or manufacturer defined IPC classification as defined in IPC-A-600J, IPC-6011, IPC-6012D and IPC-6013D, which applies to rigid, rigid-flex and flexible boards.
- Major Provisions
- What’s New in the H Revision?
Just as for IPC-610-AH, more countries were involved in developing the H revision. IPC-J-STD-001G-AM1 is wholly incorporated in the new standard, which along with a new section Cleaning and Residue Requirements indicates the importance that is now being placed on PCBA cleanliness. A significant revision is eliminating the Resistivity of Solvent Extract (ROSE) value of 1.56 μg/NaCI equivalence/cm2 as a qualifying criterion for a manufacturing process.
As illustrated above, changes to H revision for IPC-610-A and J-STD-001 were focused on expanding the standards’ reach and implementation by including more countries in development. This inclusion initiative will likely create more implementable PCBAs, component and material uniformities and operational reliability for telecommunications, which is probably the most universally important industry.
Assembling Telecommunications PCBs to Meet the H Revision Standards
Today, circuit boards are integral elements of virtually all devices, systems, vehicles and platforms that are powered, driven and/or controlled by electricity. However, industrial manufacturing of specific products is still often geo-concentrated. One industry that defies this regionalization is telecommunications. Therefore, PCBA standards and revisions—such as the H revision for IPC-610-A and J-STD-001 are globally applicable.
This breadth of applicability does not guarantee that all telecommunications boards will meet the requirements of these standards. The opposite is true and vigilance and discrimination are necessary by developers and OEMs to ensure that inferior or substandard boards do not wind up in consumers’ hands. This can be done by following the guidelines listed below:
Guidelines for Meeting H Revision Standards for Telecommunications PCB Assembly
- Select a certified CM to build your PCBAs
- Clearly define your board’s manufacturing classification
- Acquire and follow your CM’s DFA rules
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By following these three simple guidelines you can ensure that your PCBAs will meet and exceed established industry standards, such as IPC-610-A and J-STD-001. Tempo Automation leads the industry in the fast manufacturing of circuit boards for prototyping and low-volume production that meet the highest quality standards. Not only is Tempo IPC-610-A and J-STD-001 certified, but we also employ advanced technology and proprietary software that enable the inspection of board quality throughout the entire manufacturing process.
To help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to view and download DRC files easily. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in different CAD formats and Excel.
If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on the new IPC-A-610 and J-STD-001 H Revisions and how they impact the building of your PCBAs, contact us.