5 Things Instructor Must Prepare Before Teaching IPC J-STD-001 Class

A master instructor talks about 5 things to prepare before teaching your first J-STD-001 CIS class.

You’ve done it. 

You went through the training, you passed the exams, you completed the hands-on projects and you are now a Certified IPC Trainer (CIT). You have the authorization to teach and present the certification exams to others.

Now what?

Your first class can be daunting. However, with some preparation and a little confidence, the class can be a success. Here are 5 things to which you should pay special attention when preparing for your first IPC J-STD-001, Certified IPC Specialist (CIS) class.

1 -Review the material

Regardless of how long it’s been since you completed your CIT certification exams, review the material you will be teaching. Open the presentation slides and go through them one-at-a-time. Read through the instructor guide material located in the “Notes” section of the presentation. Make updates to the notes section with any personal notes that you wrote during your CIT course. A review of the slides will also allow you to make note of or correct any typos that the training committee and publishing team may have missed when the program was released. The programs are written and reviewed by people many times. Most typos will be caught. As in everything, people are fallible; typos can be missed.

IPC Training and Certification: IPC J-STD-001 Revision “H” Updates ...
IPC J-STD-001 certification

The most recent revision of many of the IPC programs have the same set of visuals for the CIT and the CIS programs. This means that you’ve viewed the slides at least once. It doesn’t mean that you remember each slide in the order they were presented. 

If your Master IPC Trainer (MIT) was anything like me, you were likely told that you shouldn’t try to memorize everything in the J-STD-001 document. Unless you have perfect recall, you are not likely to have the full content locked away in your mind. Even if you do have most of the criteria committed to memory, the standards are regularly updated. It can be difficult to recall all the material from one revision to the next. When you do recall the criteria, it may be that you are thinking of criteria from a previous revision of the document or even for a similar type of component. 

A thorough review of the material will help boost your confidence and hone your knowledge as you prepare for your first class.

Another useful tool in your review of the information is to set up a video recorder and run through the presentation. Viewing yourself presenting reveals many things of which you may be unaware. 

Review the, “Do’s and Don’ts” for trainers located in the support materials for your CIT course. When you review the video, watch for nervous motions or phrases (Do you say, “Um”, or, “Ah” as fillers? Are there any phrases you repeat often such as, “Ok?”, or, “Know what I mean?”). Be aware of hand motions or gestures that could distract your students. When you gesture to the presentation slide do you turn so that your back is to your audience or do you gesture so that you remain facing and open to your students? 

2 – Practice the Hands-on Demonstrations

Get a board of the same kind that will be used in the hands-on demonstrations. Go through as many component placements of each component type until you feel confident that you can complete the component attachment without error. When you’ve completed the component placements, do them again, but this time, present. 

IPC J-STD-001 Training For Certified IPC Specialist (CIS) - BEST Inc.
Hand on Demonstration 

Talk through the full demonstration, step-by-step just as you will be presenting to your students. By, “talk through” I mean out loud. Pretend that the students are in the room with you. Tell the students each thing you are doing. Don’t assume that the students are all familiar with everything you are doing. For example, Introduce the students to the soldering system. 

“This is the power source for the soldering system. It is powered on using this switch. This is how you change the soldering tip for this model of the soldering system.” 

The smallest details are important to the students and to develop good habits as a worker. 

Be specific about what you are doing and why. 

Another example, “After picking up the soldering iron, it is necessary to wipe the tip on a clean, damp sponge. This action is called, ‘Thermally shocking’ the iron tip. Thermally shocking the tip clean away oxides and the old solder that is on the tip.” 

You know what you are doing. The demonstration is explaining each step to the student so each student in the class knows what to do and why to do the action. You may feel strange sitting in an empty room talking to the chairs, but the preparation makes sure that you have fewer surprises on the day of the demonstration.

3 – Verify the Equipment for the Class.

Few things are more frustrating to a student than working with poorly functioning or non-functioning equipment. Sit at each work location that a student will use and verify that all of the tips are heating properly and that all of the necessary tips are available. Heat, clean, inspect, tin, and store each tip. Replace any tips that are highly oxidized, are damaged or do not heat properly.

Verify that all the hand tools necessary are available. 

Think through the process that the students will be attempting. Will the student need pliers? What about tweezers? Is there a tool available for lead forming the through-hole components? How about wire strippers?

Verification of the tools will reduce the amount of class time used by hunting down and replacing non-functioning equipment.

4 -Set up the Learning Environment.

Arrive in the classroom early or even a day ahead to make sure that the room is ready. Remember the details. Verify that all students will have an unobstructed view of the instructor and the presentation slides. Ensure that the room temperature is comfortable, but not too warm. The material in the training class isn’t exciting and it can be difficult for students to concentrate if the students are fighting sleep. A distraction-free, comfortable learning environment is crucial to learning.  

Make sure you have all the necessary pens to make drawings and other illustrations. Locate and have at hand any examples or other visual aids you will use. 

Verify that each student has access to a copy of the J-STD-001 document, a pad, and pen for taking notes and if the students will be allowed to keep the copy of the document, a highlighter to use on the document.

When the students arrive, they should see a set classroom with everything necessary to facilitate learning.

5 – Set up Class in the IPC Portal

Online exams are a reality. The IPC online portal has been updated and if a far cry from the nightmare of the 2015 version. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

Setting up as much of the class as possible well before the day of class will ensure that any issues met can be handled by the IPC support team before class.

Try to have the student’s names and functioning email address so that you can enter them into the class beforehand. Once the students are in the class, contact the students and verify that each person has received the enrollment email and that each student can access the testing site. Email changes, name changes or corrections, or any other records items that must be done by IPC take time. Your class is the most important thing on your agenda. However, IPC’s support team handles several hundred help calls each day. It takes time for the team to receive, process, update, and return a reply to your help requests. It’s not reasonable to assume that IPC will drop everyone else and focus solely on your issue.

Before your first IPC J-STD-001 class presentation, remember to review the materials, practice the demonstrations, verify the equipment, set up the learning environment, and set up the class in the IPC portal.

Most of the 5 things listed in this paper will become second nature as you continue to teach. Preparation is the key to any class. Even more so when the class is the first time you will make the presentation.

The Most Common PCB Repairs

Many terms tend to mixed together when people are discussing PCB repair. The resource for terms in electronics assembly can be found in the IPC T-50 which lists the terms and  definitions for electronic assemblies. Touch up, rework and repair often get intermingled. “Touch up” is done in the assembly process when alleged defects are identified and a heat source is brought onto the product in order to eliminate the defect. “Rework” refers to the action of re-processing a non-compliant product through the use of original or equivalent processing in a way which insures that the original applicable drawings or specifications are in compliance. For example, if post conformal coating the PCB has an area which should have had conformal coating but doesn’t, coating material can be applied to that area as a rework operation. The final coated board is required to be in compliance with the original coating specification. The “repair” of a product is an action in which a nonconforming product is restored to the functional capability. However, in the case of repair it does not assure compliance of the article with the original drawings or specifications.

Image result for most common pcb problems

As this definition of repair indicates the final product will not look like the original unit as signs of some of the repair work done will be visible. An example of this would be a burned hole in a board which has been fixed by removing the burned area and refilling it with epoxy. This will be visible and this is considered a repair process and it has to be be approved by the customer.

Listed below are the most common PCB repairs:

PCB land lifting/replacement

A PCB land is considered “lifted” off the board and is a defect per the IPC-A-610 inspection standards when it is pulled away from the PCB at least one thickness of the land. For a 1 ounce copper land the thickness is specified to be 1.4 mils (35 um) and therefore any “peeling” up of the land beyond this thickness would be considered a defect and can be repaired. This defect can occur when force, usually under temperature, is applied to the pad during device removal. In other cases there may be board handling damage which causes the pad to be lifted.

Image result for PCB land lifting/replacement

The repair of a lifted land can be accomplished via a variety of methods, but the IPC 7711/21 Rework, Modification and Repair of Electronic Assemblies defines two specific processes in the repair standard. One involves the use of epoxy to re-bond the lifted pad. Liquid epoxy is inserted under and around the lifted pad in order to re-attach it to the PCB. In the second method an epoxy film is used to bond the two materials back together. After placement of the dry film epoxy between the board and the pad, heat and pressure is applied to activate the adhesive an facilitate the repair.

The other variation on this type of SMT repair is that a conductor or trace is lifted or has been completely removed from the PCB.

PCB laminate damage

One of the next most common SMT repairs which occurs is damage to the laminate. Laminate damage occurs when there is improper board handling by personnel or when the protective packaging is not adequately applied to protect the PCB. There are a variety of methods which can be used to make this repair including an epoxy and a transplant method. In the epoxy method a temporary mold is created and epoxy is filled into the mold. After curing the epoxy is sanded to size and fit. In the replacement method a board of similar thickness and characteristics is “fitted” into the broken area.

Image result for PCB laminate damage

This is normally done when the damage is extensive and PCB assembly has enough value to warrant the repair time.

Mask damage

Another common physical damage to the PCB requiring repair is solder mask damage. This generally occurs when there is improper board handling, improper packaging and protection or during the PCB rework process. Solder mask can be repaired when replacement solder mask is dipped, brushed or sprayed onto the PCB subject to proper area definition via masking.

Image result for PCB solder Mask damage

While there are many other PCB repairs, those listed above are the most commonly observed. PCB repair can be accomplished on almost any PCB assembly, the only question is how much repair labor will be involved.

Brief Details of IPC A 610 Challenge Test

The IPC-A-610 Acceptability for Printing Circuit Assemblies certification test can currently be challenge tested for a variety of different situations. Let’s first review the certification program for the IPC-A-610 to outline the different cases where a challenge test can be administered as October 1, 2019. A “challenge test” is defined in conditions where no prior instruction or out of date formal instruction has not taken place and the candidate would like to become certified.

IPC A-610 Certification for IPC Specialist

The IPC certification program is broken down into multiple tiers. These tiers are enumerated below:

  • The CIS is the lowest tier on the IPC certification program. It refers to the certification that is usually held by various associates and managers and can be “customized” to fit the business
  • The CSE for the IPC-A-610 program is the subject matter expert in the standard within your organization. They are the SME on the particular standard which in this case is the acceptability of printed circuit assemblies.
  • The CIT is the certified instructor level. They are located within organizations to provide the instruction and re-instruction for the CIS’ within the company.
  • The MIT or Master Instructor Trainer works for the licensed training centers and trains trainers and CSEs in all things IPC-A-610. They are employed by the various training centers.

The IPC A-610 program, like the other IPC certification program, has several elements that are important to understand when considering how the IPC-A-610 challenge testing works. The IPC certification program for IPC-A-610 is a multi-tiered certification program system with the levels previously-described. The certification testing is driven by the standard itself, which is updated and edited by electrical manufacturing services providers, OEMs, schools, training centers that employ the master instructors as well as all other elements of the electronics supply chain. This standard then drives the development of the test questions as well as the development of the various non-English language editions of the standard. Once certified the student must be recertified every two years. The certification is an individual certification with IPC, the trade industry organization, being responsible for the maintenance of the certification.

Now that the IPC A-610 program element, as well as the various tiers, have been outlined the IPC-A-610 challenge testing can be described.  In the case of a CIS, they need to pass an original examination which may be challenge tested (module 1 required plus policies and procedures testing). In the case of a CSE, the potential candidate may ask for a challenge test.  In the case of a CIT, the initial certification and subsequent certifications may be challenge-tested. Finally, in the case of an MIT, just like the CIT the testing portion of the MIT requirements may be challenge tested.

What is the Difference Between the IPC-A-610 and the IPC-J-STD-001?

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.

Difference Between the IPC-A-610 and the IPC-J-STD-001?
Difference Between the IPC-A-610 and the IPC-J-STD-001?

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.

PCB Rework and Repair
PCB Rework and Repair

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.

IPC Certification

The IPC is the trade organization for the electronics assembly, manufacturing and distribution parts of the “electronics supply chain”. While it has several purposes, one of the top purposes has to do with providing the materials and structure for training it’s members.  This presents itself to a great extent through its IPC certification training platform. The standards themselves are based on member-provided input through inputs provided by industry, subject matter experts, trainers and consultants as part of a technical committee process. A specific training committee then prepares the training materials. IPC then administers the IPC certification training program.

IPC Certification Program @BEST Inc.
IPC Certification program @BEST Inc.

The IPC Certification program is a multi-tiered training program. The IPC sells the license rights for a given area to one of the member companies who then hire a staff of seasoned instructors. These instructors come from industry, the military or repair depots. These instructors are trained as trainers. Once they reach this level of certification these IPC certification trained trainers or CITs can then train associates in the given standard. After they have been certified to the trainer level, the master site license holder advocates for their credentials with IPC. This along with teaching associates at the CIS level of the given program will then meet the minimum standards to become a Master Instructor Trainer or MIT. Once this is designated by the IPC training administration department, IPC certification classes can be taught by the new instructor at both the CIT and CIS levels. A new SME (Subject Matter Expert) part of the training program is being instituted. This accreditation makes someone within an organization the expert and the industry laison for each of the certification program standards. This soon to be released level will not require that the person trains others but it will require certification testing. The IPC certification is a transportable certification which belongs to the certification holder and has a validity of 2 years. At the end of 2 years the IPC certification certificate testing must be renewed.

Certified IPC and PCB Assembly Courses @BEST Inc.
Certified IPC and PCB Assembly Courses @BEST Inc.

The most popular IPC certification training programs are currently available for the following standards:

  • IPC-A-610 Acceptability of Electronics Assemblies Training and Certification Program
  • The IPC J-STD-001 Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies
  • IPC/WHMA-A-620, Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies,
  • IPC-7711B/7721B Rework of Electronic Assemblies/Repair and Modification of Printed Boards and Electronic Assemblies
  • IPC-A-600 Acceptability of Printed Boards

The IPC certification training program is a worldwide training initiative. While the standards themselves are developed in the English language they are translated into a multitude of different languages. Once the standard has been developed in the English language it will then be translated into a variety of languages. Upon completion and of the standards the training program for the given IPC certification standard is then developed in a committee environment. These IPC certification classes are then “test driven” in various environments, refined and then released to the IPC membership. Training centers are scattered throughout the world including the largest electronics markets in Taiwan, Mexico, Japan, China as well as the and Europe and the United States.

Recently the IPC has made some significant upgrades to the training program. In the last few years, the testing of the material for certification has moved to an online format. This allows for test questions to be randomized, multiple test questions to be pooled and drawn into to the testing as well randomization of answers to questions. All of these upgrades help to increase the integrity of the IPC certification program. Within the last few years, the addition of ANSI approval to the standard has made it fit hand-in-glove with some of the international quality standards. These and other upgrades have upgraded the IPC certification training program.

IPC certification training continues to evolve with the electronic industry’s needs. For more information on IPC certification see ipctraining.com.