IPC Class 3 is still a luxury nowadays, but will soon become a necessity

Electronics - a field that has been a part of Mr. jiri Dostal’s entire life really. Ever since he was a little boy he used to go to the research and development center of Tesla where he would observe his father making radars. He obviously studied electronics at a higher level and since 2000 he has been working in RealTime Technologies, a company where he is currently holding a position of a Technical Director. He is responsible not only for making sure the production is managed smoothly but at the same time he's one of the major lecturers of the company for the area of IPC certifications. In reality this means one to two workshops and seminars every week and more than 500 of trained specialists in the area of IPC standards. He holds a certificate of a Master IPC Trainer for the area of IPC-A-610 (a globally most used standard for the installations of electronic sets), IPC 7711/21 (which corresponds to repairs, remodeling and modifications of customer sets), Master Instructor MIT for the area of IPC-A-600 (for the criteria of an attached printed circuit boards) and a WHMA-620 (for installation purposes connected to cable sets and bundles). The MIT status then guarantees that he can train other specialists and trainers

Before we get into the IPC standards themselves, let me ask you as a fundamental expert on electronics, what is the direction that this field is headed towards nowadays? What are the major trend here?

Everything is constantly getting smaller. The distances between components and even the components themselves. Everything is a lot more dense. The Moore law from 1965 is still pretty much valid as it describes the exponential growth of computational output of circuits in electronics which says that each 18 months the number of transistors in a chip doubles. This is still happening. Currently at this point on the latest processor do you have some 2.6 billion transistors which is unbelievable in a component that has  dimensions of 3 x 3 or 4 x 4 cm. But there's one thing that not everything can be continuously shrunk and made smaller, however on the other hand there is classical physics. Current strains, current transferability - these are just laws that are impossible to bypass. Nominal cross-section of a conductor for certain voltage is still the same.

And how does the trend of minimizing translate into the production of printed circuit boards?

A strong effort to miniaturize is obviously seen even here. A demand or request on the complexity of individual components goes hand-in-hand with this - there are growing demands on quality, dielectric stability and other parameters. Let's take a look for instants on the automotive industry. 30 years ago the only thing that existed were alternator diodes.  In today's world, half or three quarters of your car are made from electronic parts CARSTAR then able to monitor and watch lanes on highways, distance, speed, help you break in case of an emergency. There is and infotainment system installed in the car which is a computer so to speak. The car is plugged into the power, is capable of calling for help on its own in case of an accident. All this is provided by electronics systems. The development is incredibly fast. And all this while remaining the same size of the car, however there is more and more electronics installed in each car every year.

How are IPC classes related to this development?

Well generally speaking, the demand upon electronics and the production of basic printed circuit boards is mandatory in terms of subsequent quality of the entire product. The IPC Standard then divides these products into three classes. Whereas the most critical, most stable and the one with the biggest demands laid upon is the class 3. This ensures critical importance where no machine put out of operation is tolerated. We place, within this class, all devices and appliances that due to its full or part non-function ability might jeopardize human lives in any ways.

pcb coating

What fields is it suitable for?

For the previously mentioned automotive industry. The entire industry practically uses it entirely. But of course there are also other fields in areas such as aviation, military or aerospace, railway and pharmacy industries as well. These fields more or less practically work entirely with the IPC Class  3 demands nowadays guaranteeing the highest possible quality.

Is this about above-standard services nowadays or would you forsee all production companies producing printed circuit boards headed this way?

Currently, this is still a luxury. IPC Class 3 means that, within the entire production process, you are able to guarantee first rate quality and that you are willing to declare it in each moment. Which by far not every corporation or a production company is able to do or prove. Nevertheless the entire field is headed towards a much higher quality and looking ahead into the future it will become harder and harder to address customers unless you are capable of producing printed circuit boards meeting such criteria and standards.

How many certification companies are now active on the Local market?

Nowadays there are two. As opposed to the other company we are now able to offer way more types of trainings and a larger number of certifications. For the future we would like to increase our certifications with documents from the family 2220 - design documentation.

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Jiří Dostál
technický ředitel