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Applications across the various markets for printed circuit boards can have significantly different specifications and performance requirements. Circuits for toys and games logically have lower performance requirements than those used in medical devices. IPC-6013 is an industry-driven specification that defines the performance requirements and acceptance features for flexible printed circuit boards.
This specification was drafted to recognize the differences in performance requirements for different applications. Three classes of performance and acceptance requirements have been created in it: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Class 3 specifies the most stringent set of requirements and is used to specify quality requirements for products requiring the highest level of reliability. Class 3 requirements are often specified in applications for the Department of Defense (DoD), aerospace, and medical devices.
While IPC 6013 Class 3 is often used to specify flex circuits for military applications, MILP-50884 and MIL-PRF-31032 are two military documents also being used. These three different specifications define performance requirements for essentially the same applications and, in fact, there is significant redundancy and often confusion regarding how to properly specify product for military applications. To understand how things got to where they are today requires a review of some history.
Background The evolution of flexible circuit military specifications can be associated with the legendary story about the $600 toilet seat. In the 1980s during Reagan’s presidency, the U.S. was embarking on a major expansion in the size and capabilities of the U.S. forces. Defense spending increased dramatically, which had some political ramifications. In the mid-1980s, the Project on Government Oversight reported the Pentagon was dramatically overpaying for commercially available items. Notable examples used were a $435 hammer and a $600 toilet seat.
In response, President Reagan created a commission, headed by David Packard, to study the procurement practices of the DoD. The basic findings of the commission were that there was no rational system for specifying and procuring products. Extremely high costs were due to overly rigid specifications created by overly complicated organizations (Source). The results of these findings drove a number of efforts to simplify government procurement processes. One of these efforts was to specify commercial off-the-shelf products (COTS) when possible. Specifically, the military started to look at specifications used for commercial product as at least a guide in developing procurement specifications.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine.
08/05/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
The Top 5 list this week contains industry analysis from IPC’s Shawn DuBravac, news on the passage of the U.S. “CHIPS Plus” bill, new materials from Ventec, news about a fab for sale, and a chemistry company completing their acquisition, plus a brand new book in the I-Connect007 eBooks series.
06/15/2022 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
The British Motor Museum in Warwickshire, housing the world's largest collection of historic British cars, was venue for the 2022 Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology on June 8, which attracted a substantial gathering of manufacturers and suppliers from the UK printed circuit industry. ICT chair Emma Hudson reflected upon lessons learned during the pandemic lock-down and how the industry has successfully adapted to circumstances. She commented that the UK’s PCB fabricators are extremely busy, as she introduced an outstanding conference programme including a keynote from the incomparable Happy Holden.
06/03/2022 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Things are heating up in the world of PCB design and manufacturing as well. In the past week, we published quite a bit of news—some good, some not so good. Some of the news is mixed, as we see with the EMS industry shipments rising YOY in April, but falling from the previous month. It’s nice to see NASA investing in American small businesses, but they didn’t really have a choice, did they?