Dec 14, 2021|Technological Advancements and Materials

PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board. PCB is a non-conductive material that has conductive lines printed or etched onto the surface. Anyone who has seen a computer motherboard knows what this looks like. PCBs are used for many things. 

  • Medical Devices
  • LEDs
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Automotive Components
  • Telecommunications Equipment
  • Safety and Security Equipment
  • Industrial Equipment

What Are IPC Standards?

The IPC is the trade association for the electronic interconnection industry. This organization provides the industry standards for the manufacturing of electronic equipment, its public policy, and market research. The goal of the organization is to standardize the assembly and production requirements of electronic equipment. 

The PCB manufacturing process is very complex, and by setting standards for PCB assembly, there is little room for error in the manufacturing process. By adhering to IPC standards, you can assure the quality and reliability of your PCB products. 

Why Do IPC Standards Matter for PCBs?

Control the Quality and Reliability of the Final Product

To preserve its reputation, a company must provide a high-quality product. Adhering to IPC standards ensures that products will maintain their status in a competitive market.

Improve Communication With Suppliers and Company Employees

With IPC standards, manufacturers, company competitors, and suppliers are all on the same page. By using this global standard, employees all over the world will not be bogged down with confusion and they will know what industry standards they need to meet. 

Help Control Costs

Following IPC standards help eliminate waste and keeps production costs to a minimum when projects don’t have to be reworked and redone multiple times. 

Many factors affect printed circuit board costs

  • Board Size
  • Number of Layers
  • Number of Holes and Size
  • Lead Time
  • Trace Width/Spacing
  • Material Type
  • Thickness
  • Board Standard
  • Soldermask Color
  • Surface Finish
  • Quantity

By setting standards of uniformity for each of these aspects, you ensure that the work is done correctly the first time and there will be little room for error. 

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What Are IPC Standards for PCBs?

Class 1. General Electronics

This is the lowest class. For most general electronics, this class sets the standard for the function of the complete assembly. 

Class 2. Dedicated Service Electronics

This class of products is designed to function in any environment and usually has uninterrupted service. These products must have a long life and reliability. Example: microwaves and laptops. 

Class 3. High-Performance Electronics

The highest of the class categories, these products must provide continual performance in any environment without any downtime. This class includes medical equipment, such as life-support systems.

Examples of IPC Standards


Used between PCB designers and manufacturers. This standard helps to ensure consistent data exchange, providing uniformity for product results. 


The standard for the PCB design process. Covered in this process are materials, design, electrical & thermal properties, and much more. IPC-2221 addresses topics, such as design layout, mechanical and physical properties, parts lists, materials, electrical properties, thermal management, and more. 


Provides specifications for base materials for rigid and multilayer boards. Included in this standard are the dimensions and properties of the boards.


This specification covers the performance of rigid printed boards. It addresses the final product’s surface coating, conductor spacing, and structural integrity. Also included is the solderability and conductor spacing.


Sets the standard for the acceptance criteria for PCBs, including copper plating and gold fingers, which are the gold-plated bars that sit along the edges of PCBs. It describes which conditions of a board are acceptable or non-conforming.


 This standard is required for soldered assemblies for soldered leaded and lead-free interconnections. 


This is the most-used IPC standard in the industry. This standard is internationally renowned and printed in many languages. Includes lead and lead-free interconnections. 


First released in 2002, this is the standard for cable, wire, and harness assemblies. Established in connection with the Wire Harness Manufacturer’s Association. Also published in multiple languages, this standard is accepted internationally as the standard for end-product acceptance.


 Provides guidelines for testing for different aspects of PCBs. For example, IPC-TM-650 provides the framework for testing for electrochemical migration. The IPC-TM-650 Test Methods Manual outlines all tests. 

Choosing the Right PCB Software Impacts IPC Standard Implementation

For reliability and accuracy with PCB manufacturing, it’s best to implement IPC standards using PCB software. PCB software is used by engineers in conjunction with design firms. Free software is available online, and there is also industrial PCB software, each with both pros and cons. 

By comparing different PCB software brands on the market, you can choose the one that best fits your needs. Best PCB Design Software is a good resource for finding the PCB software that is right for you. 

Where to Get IPC Standards

IPC standards are readily available in the IPC store. The site allows you to search by product type, industry segment, technology, process, language, and year. In addition, the site also provides training and educational resources for electronics workforce training, design courses, and professional development. 

By becoming a member of IPC, you can take advantage of various benefits. Membership covers all locations around the world for one set rate. 

One, two, or three-year membership revenues can be obtained on IPC’s website. Benefits include:

Improved Competitiveness

Increased Probability

Waste Reduction

Increased Product Quality

Reduction of Product Failure

The IPC website is also a great resource for connecting with others in the industry. The site provides a link, where you can ask technical questions to assist with your PCB production. It also has IPC technical resources for members only. There is also the opportunity to join the IPC design global community. 

Each IPC standard represents a critical component in PCB manufacturing. By adhering to IPC standards, you can be assured that your PCBs meet the international standards for safety, quality, and usability. By taking advantage of all IPC resources, you can garner your organization as reputable and maintain standards that will maximize profits and keep waste and cost to a minimum. Resources for IPC standards can be found online by going directly to

Author Profile

Sunny Patel
Sunny Patel is the Engineering and Sales Manager at Candor Industries. Sunny is trained as a IPC-A-600 trainer, AS9100 Lead auditor, IPC CID and got his Engineering degree at the University of Toronto.