The Association for Connecting Electronics Industries (previously called Institute for Printed Circuits) is the official organization that sets the standards for PCBs and PCB-related activities.
IPC Class 1 includes all the general electronic products such as consumer electronics, computer peripherals, etc.
IPC Class 1 PCBs are not manufactured with the intention to last long, and therefore physical defects are acceptable in them.
TV remote controls and smartphones are examples of IPC class 1 electronic products
Every step in the design, manufacturing, assembly, inspection, and testing of printed circuit boards is governed by IPC standards. IPC standards are not generic to any electronic product. As with the quality of the circuit board, the class of the printed circuit board also varies, and so does its IPC standards checklist. General electronic products come under the IPC class 1 and belong to the lowest quality category.
The Association Connecting Electronics Industries (previously called the Institute for Printed Circuits) is the official organization that sets the standards for PCB and PCB-related activities. The IPC association is the one agency that focuses on specifying PCB design and assembly. IPC standards are established for all kinds of PCBs, including but not limited to industrial equipment, advanced microelectronics, telecommunication systems, computers, automotive systems, aerospace technology, military systems, and medical devices.
The entire electronics industry has adopted IPC standards for the design, manufacturing, and assembly of PCBs. However, the standards vary with the class of electronic products. Based on the classification of the PCBs by IPC, there are differences in the IPC standards checklist under the stages (design, manufacturing, assembly, testing, inspection, etc.).
PCB design, manufacturing, assembly, testing, inspection, and documentation need to follow industry standards to deliver quality-assured electronic products to consumers. As IPC standards are synonymous with quality and reliability assurance, classifying PCBs into different classes is a good approach. The classes are divided in such a way that as the hierarchy of the class increases, there is a progression in the functional performance requirements, sophistication, inspection, testing frequency, etc.
Depending on the budget and customer specification or requirement, manufacturers classify products into IPC classes. The classification of electronic products into IPC classes differ in the inspection and the level of quality acceptance. Sorting electronic products into these specifications helps the manufacturer to wisely split the time, level of expertise, and accuracy to the design, manufacturing, assembly, and every other stage of PCB product completion.
Under the IPC-6011 standard, electronic products can be classified into four categories:
Electronic Product Categories
IPC Class 1
General Electronic Products
IPC Class 2
Dedicated Service Electronic Products
IPC Class 3
IPC Class 3/A
Space and Military Avionics
IPC Class 1
IPC Class 1 includes all the general electronic products such as consumer electronics, computer peripherals, etc. Among the IPC 6012 classification, IPC Class 1 electronic products have the lowest requirements. In IPC Class 1 products, the physical or cosmetic imperfections are unimportant.
Any electronic product that consumers use on a daily basis defines the array of IPC Class 1 electronic products. In most cases, IPC Class 1 PCBs are not a part of critical or sensitive electronic products. IPC Class 1 PCBs are not manufactured with the intention to last long, and therefore physical defects are acceptable. However, physical defects should not hamper the fit, form, or functionality of the completed PCB.
Some examples of IPC Class 1 products are:
- LED lights
- TV remote controls
IPC Class 1 PCB Characteristics
The characteristics of IPC Class 1 PCBs are given in the figure below.
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