The Importance of Printed Circuit Boards and IPC-A-610E Standards

by GuestPoster on May 25, 2011

Electronics have become a mainstay industry in modern society. Computers, watches, iPods, laptops, mp3 players, and electronic book devices are all highly dependent on electrical components in order to function. All of these items use printed circuit boards to connect different components of the device and allow them to work together. Since the 1950s circuit boards have become essential to the production processes of all electronic items. If a circuit board was compared to the human body, it would be like the spine. It is the central housing center to which all electrical components are attached in a specific order to allow the best communication and signal transfers possible. Considering the fact that the human spine houses millions of nerve endings which transfer information to the brain to keep the body functioning and able to move in response to stimuli, it is fairly easy to see the similarities.

Previous to printed circuit boards, these potions of the device were hand wired. This process worked, but did not offer the high rate of reliability needed for the electronics industry. Modern circuit boards are carefully mapped out and testedto assure that sufficient distance is left between components so their signals do not disrupt each other. When a design is approved, it is used as a map for circuit board production. A printed circuit board is made of copper foil that is glued to a tough plastic backing. During the initial stages of the process, this copper foil is printed with a substance in the shape of the design needed for proper circuit board operation. The copper foil and plastic base is then dipped in a solution that removes the plain copper and only leaves those portions which have been masked in the substance. This results in a pattern of lines on the plastic which act as a guide for where to place and solder electrical components.

The IPC organization is an internationally member run group of businesses which make up a significant portion of the electrical industry. This group helps to coordinate the production of items which follow certain guidelines for standards which allow electrical components to interface and operate well with each other. The IPC prints IPC-A-610E standards which are distributed to all of its members. The IPC-A-610E standards help define appropriate distances and layouts of electrical components which will assure a certain level of quality within the industry. Consumers must have a certain level of trust in the products they are purchasing, especially when it comes to electronics, so following the standards set in IPC-A-610E helps assure they are receiving consistently high quality work which can further increase confidence in the industry. The standards set by the IPC-A-610E are available worldwide and many international organizations heed these guidelines in their manufacturing processes.

In addition to the single layer printed circuit boards, there are also multiple layer options which allow electrical components to operate as needed in a much smaller space. When layers are used, there are pins called vias which connect different layers of the board. The methods surrounding these techniques have improved greatly in recent years and has made better innovations and product advancements such as cell phone design possible. As can be seen, the development of these printed circuit board techniques have played an important role in the technological improvements. With the continuously decreasing size of cell phones, ipods, and other devices, the importance of printed circuit boards will likely continue to play a role of great significance in future developments of products. Keeping good high quality standards through the work of the IPC is crucial for continued customer confidence in products using complex electrical components.

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