But those planning to use both must identify who is responsible for key requirements.
To understand how to implement J-STD-001, Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies and IPC-A-610, Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies, we must first understand each individual standard. When we look at IPC’s Simplified Standards Tree (FIGURE 1), we see IPC’s most widely used standards in the trunk of the tree and the supporting standards in the branches on either side of the trunk.
The standards in the trunk tell a story from data transfer and design, to materials and printed board fabrication, and then to printed board assembly. Within the assembly standards, we see J-STD-001 first, followed by IPC-A-610, and this is where the story of using the two documents together starts.
J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610 have been around for decades. Ask the dedicated volunteers of the development task groups what the documents address in the work of electronics assembly, and they will quickly tell you J-STD-001 is for the soldering process and IPC-A-610 is for inspection. The standards complement one another, and where J-STD-001 provides process and materials requirements, IPC-A-610 provides acceptance criteria.
That seems simple, but they are also very different. It is important to understand what is behind those words. How to make the standards work together for an organization requires knowledge and a deliberate systematic approach to deployment.
IPC-A-610 was initially released in 1983 with a scope declaring it as a collection of visual quality acceptability requirements for electronic assemblies. In 1992, J-STD-001 was released to address the materials, methods and acceptance criteria for soldering. Developed for different purposes by different task groups, development and revision activities for these two documents were worked independently for several revision cycles. This means comments were submitted to the documents, discussed and dispositioned without influence from the other task group’s development activities. Despite some crossover in membership, the task groups wore their J-STD-001 or IPC-A-610 “hats” and would think in terms of process or inspection when considering changes to the individual documents. They did not consider what the other group was doing as they worked.
In the late 1990s as the standards matured and content started to grow, the task groups started looking at the acceptance criteria in each document for soldered connections and realized they were not the same. It was impossible for those who wanted to utilize the process requirements from J-STD-001 and take advantage of the pictures and additional acceptance criteria in IPC-A-610 to use them in the same manufacturing environment without considerable tailoring. There was no direct implementation solution with the criteria as they were presented. Recognizing there was a need in the soldering community for this type of approach, IPC provided the forum for the developing task groups to start working together on an effort to find common ground on the criteria that crossed over from one document to the other. This undertaking by the task groups to work together was quickly deemed a “synergy” effort. That effort continues today.
As organizations choose to implement J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610 in their operations, they see the documents give a nod to each other early in their respective content and address those curious about their similarities. The current revision “G” of J-STD-001 states, “When IPC J-STD-001 is cited or required by contract, the requirements of IPC-A-610 do not apply unless separately or specifically required…” while revision “G” for IPC-A-610 states, “When IPC-A-610 is cited or required by contract as a standalone document for inspection and/or acceptance, the requirements of IPC J-STD-001, Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies do not apply unless separately and specifically required….”
It is important to note here that J-STD-001 has a Revision G Amendment 1, released in October 2018. Its content, however, does not affect the synergy with IPC-A-610G. For this reason, there is no corresponding amendment to IPC-A-610G. The task groups work in synergy to develop the criteria shared by the two documents, while maintaining their focus on the areas that make them unique. In the same way, organizations planning to use both J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610 need to look at how the standards are referenced in different disciplines within their organizational processes and who is responsible for key requirements. They also need to understand how those decisions ultimately influence the entire process. It is easy to say “assemblers assemble and inspectors inspect,” but an argument can be made that assemblers are responsible for making acceptable hardware, and inspectors are responsible for accepting the product to the requirements set forth in the documentation.
From the contractual requirements where the order of precedence of J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610 should be defined, to the notes placed on drawings by designers, process control, documentation and training, there are decisions to be made and processes defined for successful implementation of using J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610. Requirements may also need to be flowed down to suppliers, and these need to be reviewed and considered from the outset of implementation. Even if there are no such requirements initially, they may be needed in the future. The organization may choose to address this at implementation, so they are prepared.
Ultimately, how to apply the two documents in a single environment is a decision for an organization that depends on the practices, policies and processes utilized internally, while understanding the synergy and uniqueness of J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610. There is not a single cookie-cutter solution that works for everyone, but common threads apply no matter the organization or product being produced. Using the two documents together can be rewarding, but to do so successfully requires knowledge and vigilance.
As an aside, IPC will host a pair of technical education courses, Process and Acceptability Requirements: Utilizing J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610 Together, on Sept. 10 in Huntsville, AL, and on Dec. 3 in Anaheim, CA. Course instructor Teresa Rowe will cover how these documents complement each other and where they differ, how to provide clear instructions on drawings and documentation, what takes precedence when a conflict occurs in the requirements, and how to navigate the complex world of ensuring staff training and proficiency requirements can be met. Rowe will also cover what is needed to properly flow down requirements to suppliers and the pitfalls of taking shortcuts. For more information, visit ipc.org/TechEd-001-610.