People unfamiliar with the electronics industry governing specifications ask the question “What is the Difference Between the IPC-A-610 and the IPC-J-STD-001?” This often is derived from a specification that a vendor reviews, the contract that a quality manager is making is compiled for by the electronic manufacturing services company or a soon-to-be IPC-certified trainer asking a training center what program he or she should be certified in.
The IPC-A-610 and IPC-J-STD-001 vary in their focus on understanding PCB technology. The IPC-J-STD-001 certification teaches fundamental PCB assembly techniques and processes for SMT (surface mount technology) and through-hole components. These techniques include but are not limited to turret, gold cup, J-lead, and drag soldering. Also included in the J-STD-001 course is gaining proficiency in the J-STD-001 specification and how to navigate or use it. They learn to visually assess various fillet types and understand minimum end-product acceptability characteristics. This intermixing of theory and practice assures that the trainee is given a well-rounded course with the knowledge to further their skill in other IPC courses. Many trainees start with the J-STD-001 course for its emphasis on practicing soldering workmanship.
While the IPC-J-STD-001 centers on understanding the minimum end product requirements for soldered electronic (and electrical) assemblies, the IPC-A-610 centers on standards of acceptability that go beyond those minimum requirements. Essentially the IPC-A-610 are the standards for end product acceptability for printed wiring boards. The IPC-A-610 provides a visual reference of proper PCB characteristics, along with explanations of various defects and process indicators that one may find when inspecting a board. The impact of defects and process indicators varies for different product classes. For example, a process indicator in Class 1, general electronic products, may still be accepted whereas a process indicator in Class 3, high performance/harsh environment electronic products, may be rejected and treated as a serious defect. This course ultimately examines the visual acceptability standards of hardware, terminal connections, through-hole components, SMT, wire wraps, and so on, each section with their own specific defects and process indicators pertaining to specific product classes. Other IPC specifications and documents such as the IPC 7711/7721, help the trainee with actual rework and repair. The IPC-A-610 is merely a visual guide for evaluating the acceptability of the board.
It is important to recognize that while there is topical overlap between the J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610, neither course should be used as a substitute for the other. Both documents are crucial in understanding PCB technology and should be used in tandem to form a well-rounded assessment. Other documents such as the IPC-D-325, which deals with end item documentation, and the IPC-7711/7721, which focuses on PCB rework and repair, are suggested to be used as well. Neither document should dictate the manufacturing process either; they are merely suggestive documents and courses to help trainees. What is considered acceptable is ultimately up to the manufacturer in question.
By being able to to answer the question “What is the Difference Between the IPC-A-610 and the IPC-J-STD-001?” contract administrators, quality control staffs, sales people, procurement officials and others can help sort through the requirements.