Gary CarterThe industry is asked for feedback on reducing bottlenecks in the CAD-manufacturing process.

Last year was a watershed year for the IPC-2581 standard.

A broad cross-section of printed circuit board software suppliers, OEMs, equipment suppliers, manufacturers, and service suppliers, having implemented IPC-2581 both in trial and production use, provided significant positive feedback to the IPC 2-16 committee regarding their experiences utilizing the standard to produce PCBs. Working closely with the IPC-2581 Consortium’s technical committee, many of these adopters proposed feature enhancements, leading to IPC-2581B Amendment 1, published in January of this year. This release supports the most comprehensive set of industry requirements for printed circuit board fabrication, assembly and test in a data-centric, open, license-free, industry-driven standard format. On behalf of the IPC 2-16 Committee, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all who participated in this effort.

That stated, we recognize more work is still to be done. Moving forward, the 2-16 committee is actively soliciting input from industry for the next major revision of the IPC-2581 standard. Regardless of your present IPC-2581 adoption status, we want to hear from each of you.

The objective of this next round of enhancements is to eliminate risk and inefficiency in day-to-day operations and streamline production processes. To accomplish this objective, we need to understand where companies experience bottlenecks requiring inordinate amounts of time and effort to be expended to collate, review, and interpret customer drawings, documents and data. This may include activities necessary to transform, translate, and reenter the information, and/or where the need is encountered to pause design or manufacturing operations to solicit additional information from the customer/supplier to ensure their requirements/information are adequately understood and verified. The intent is for IPC-2581 files to be complete and consistent in the initial delivery, and that their content be structured in a machine-readable form to enable automated design and manufacturing operations from producer to consumer throughout the product lifecycle. This, once achieved, eliminates manual, labor-intensive and error-prone human interactions wherever they exist.

Industry-proposed enhancements are already being captured by the technical committee. Examples of these include:

  • Support for bare board stack-up structures, including multiple zones for flex and rigid-flex.
  • Enhanced ability to communicate comprehensive requirements for impedance-controlled elements.
  • Representation for fabrication and assembly, including embedded component technologies.
  • Support for multi-level bond pads and wire-bond constructs.
  • Enhanced support for complex drilled and milled features.
  • Enhanced support for complex via structures.
  • 3D model support for conveying complex assembly details.
  • Enhanced DFx collaboration.
  • Embedded schemas, external links, and other methods of defining comprehensive requirements for a product.
  • Support of variant bills-of-materials.
  • Enhanced support for polarized parts.

Please take a moment to consider our solicitation for input.

If you are the correct point of contact in your organization, I respectfully request a response regarding your interest in participating in the requirements definition process. lf other subject matter experts within your organization are better suited to discuss these specific (or any other) requirements, please forward this request to them, and if deemed appropriate, pass their contact information back to me to plan follow-up with them directly.

Gary Carter is co-chair of the IPC 2-16 Committee responsible for the IPC-2581 standard (;

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