What is the difference between IPC-6012 and IPC-A-600?

IPC-6012 is a performance document released by the Printed Circuit Association on managing PCB industry practices. IPC-6012 is a supplement to IPC-RB-276. Its scope includes the qualification certification and performance of rigid printed boards, which can refer to single-panel or double-sided boards with or without plated holes, multi-layer boards with plated holes, multi-layer boards with or without blind and buried holes, and metal plates. The IPC-6012 document specifies many standards in the PCB industry, including the types of printed boards, laminated materials, and surface treatments.

IPC-6012 is a performance specification file. It defines the default requirements and specifications for each type of PCB (Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3). Category 1 PCBs are conventional electronic boards with the shortest lifespan and more simple functions, such as those used for remote controls. Type 2 PCBs are the service of electronic products with a longer lifespan. These boards are usually used in televisions, computers, or air conditioners. Compared to level 1 and level 2 PCBs, level 3 PCBs have stricter tolerances. These PCBs are commonly used in military applications, medical equipment, and the aerospace industry. Both IPC-6012 and IPC-A-600 documents apply to rigid printed circuit boards. IPC-6012 provides actual acceptance criteria, while IPC-A-600 only provides a visual explanation of these requirements, showing examples of acceptable and rejected versions of these requirements. When we have to manufacture rigid PCBs, we need to use the IPC 6012 specification. This document determines that manufacturers must meet the requirements for all three types of circuit boards.

In a word, IPC-6012 and IPC-A-600 are the two-main guidance documents, also known as performance and inspection documents. IPC-6012 is the specification, while IPC-A-600 is a visual representation of the IPC-6012 document.

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