A publication of the National Electronics Manufacturing Center of Excellence
June 2009

ISO 9001-2008
ACI Technologies Inc.
One International Plaza
Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19113
(610) 362-1200
FAX: (610) 362-1290
HELPLINE: (610) 362-1320
WEBSITE: www.empf.org

The EMPF is a U.S. Navy-sponsored National
Electronics Manufacturing Center of Excellence focused on the development, application, and transfer of new electronics manufacturing technology by partnering with industry, academia, and government centers and laboratories in the U.S

Michael D. Frederickson
EMPF Director

Barry Thaler, PhD., bthaler@aciusa.org
EMPF Technical Editor

In This Issue

Substrate Finishes


Ask the EMPF Helpline!


Specimen Cross-Sectioning


Tech Tips: Decapsulation of Integrated Circuits


Manufacturer’s Corner: 3M


IPC-A-600G Certification


EMTC Online Registration


Upcoming Training Center Courses

Industrial Advisory Board
Gerald R. Aschoff, The Boeing Company
Dennis M. Kox, Raytheon
Gregory X. Krieger, BAE Systems
Edward A. Morris, Lockheed Martin
Jack R. Harris, Rockwell Collins
Gary Kirchner, Honeywell
Andrew Paradise, Northrop Grumman
Richard Kidwell , ITT Industries

Sign up to receive email notifications of the newests issues of the EMPFasis!



The IPC-A-600G is the IPC’s specification for the acceptance of printed boards. The standard contains full color pictures and illustrations to demonstrate a variety of conditions on assemblies and describes details of the various degrees of acceptability (Figure 6-1). Training in the use and application of this standard can be useful for a full understanding of the conditions presented.

Two courses of training are offered by the EMPF. The Certified IPC Trainer (CIT) course is a three day course and is offered on site at the EMPF (scheduled four times during 2009) or an instructor can be brought on-site to your facility on your schedule. CIT candidates will receive instruction on the IPC Professional Training and Certification Policies and Procedures, the three classes of products, the various levels of acceptance, and terminology of the standard from Chapter 1, and Externally Observable Characteristics from Chapter 2 on the first day. On the second day, the instructor describes the requirements for Internally Observable Characteristics from Chapter 3 and Miscellaneous Characteristics from Chapters 4 and 5. On the final day, the candidates are administered two exams: a 15-question closed book exam and a 109-question open book exam. In order to receive certification, a minimum average score of 80% must be achieved and no individual test score may be below 70%. Candidates that fail to achieve certification are provided an opportunity to retest within 90 days (after observing a 30 day study/review period).

Candidates achieving certification receive all of the required materials to perform Certified IPC Specialist (CIS) training. This includes a copy of IPC-A-600G and IPC-6012 (which are available during the course), an IPC Instructors Guide, a CIS testing kit, and a CD-ROM containing all the required files and forms to perform training and certification for any organization. CIT Certification is provided for two years, after which candidates must recertify through the same three day course.

CIT candidates are eligible to challenge test the course without attending the lectures if they have previously been certified as a CIT in any program or can demonstrate one year of structured training experience in a topic similar in scope to IPC-A-610G. The tests, score requirements, and materials provided are identical to lecture students.

CIS training and certification is also offered by the EMPF at your facility. The CIS candidates receive training in the IPC Certification Policies and Procedures, the three classes of products, the various levels of acceptance, and terminology. The candidates are then administered open and closed book tests. If they receive a minimum average of 70% with no individual test score below 60% certification is awarded for two years. If any CIS candidate fails to achieve the minimum score, they are given the opportunity to retest within 90 days (after observing a 24 hour study/review period). Following the initial mandatory training, the candidates can receive training in any or all of a series of optional training modules. These modules include certification in the requirements for Externally Observable Characteristics, Internally Observable Characteristics, and Miscellaneous Characteristics. The optional modules require testing with only an open book test and a minimum score of 70%.

The Externally Observable Characteristics module covers requirements for board edges (burrs, nicks, and haloing), base material imperfections (weave exposure and texture, pits and voids, measling, crazing, delamination, and foreign inclusions), solder coatings, hole requirements (nodules, burrs, plating or coating voids, and lifted lands), marking, solder mask, conductor definition (width, spacing, and external annular rings), and flatness. These topics are best applied as a non-destructive assessment of the acceptability of a printed board, generally at an end-of-line inspection during the board manufacturing process or as part of an incoming material inspection by the assembler.

The Internally Observable Characteristics module covers requirements for dielectric materials (laminate voids, registration to holes, delamination or blistering, etchback, smear removal, and layer-to-layer spacing), conductive pattern thickness, and plated-through holes (internal annular ring, foil and plating cracks, plating nodules, hole plating thickness, plating voids, solder resist thickness, wicking, inner layer separation, burrs and nailheading on drilled holes, and roughness and flare of punched holes). These requirements can only be assessed by cross-sectioning a printed circuit board, so the analysis must be destructive. These criteria are best applied to a sample of a production lot; many board manufacturers will provide these samples or documentation that shows these criteria were assessed with each production lot manufactured.

The Miscellaneous Characteristics module covers requirements for flexible and rigid-flex circuitry (cover layer requirements, stiffener bonding, laminate voids, etchback, and edge requirements), metal core boards (core spacing, insulation thickness and fill), flush printed boards, cleanliness testing, and solderability testing. Some of these requirements can be assessed through observation and others require destructive analysis. These requirements supplement the Externally and Internally Observable Characteristics when using non-traditional materials for printed boards.

For more information or to register for any EMPF course, please contact the Registrar at 610.362.1295 or email registrar@empf.org

[site map]