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 What is the difference between IPC 6012 and 6013?

What is the difference between IPC 6012 and 6013?


Understanding the difference between IPC 6012 and 6013 begins with understanding IPC standards. which are pivotal in the electronics industry, especially in PCB manufacturing. IPC, originally the Institute for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits. It is a global trade association that sets the benchmark for assembly. and production requirements in electronic equipment and assemblies. These standards ensure consistency, reliability, and quality in PCB manufacturing.

Importance of IPC standards in PCB manufacturing

By adhering to IPC standards, manufacturers follow detailed guidelines. covering every aspect of production, from design and materials to testing and performance. This adherence not only streamlines the production process. but also minimizes errors and elevates the overall quality of the final product. IPC standards create a common language for engineers, designers, and manufacturers. ensuring clear communication and understanding of specific requirements and expectations.


Consistency is another vital benefit. IPC standards provide a framework that ensures every PCB meets the same high-quality standards. This uniformity not only enhances the performance of the final product. but also bolsters the manufacturer’s reputation. Customers and end-users trust that products built to IPC standards will perform reliably.

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Overview of IPC 6012

Definition and Scope

IPC 6012 sets the standard for the qualification and performance of rigid PCBs. This standard covers the requirements for various types of rigid PCBs. including single-sided, double-sided, and multilayer boards. It ensures that these PCBs meet specific performance criteria. making them suitable for a wide range of electronic applications.

Key Features and Requirements

IPC 6012 includes several key features to ensure the quality of rigid PCBs. These features encompass the entire production process. from materials and design to fabrication and testing. By adhering to these requirements, manufacturers can produce PCBs. that perform consistently and reliably in their intended applications.


Performance Class Levels

Class 1: General Electronic Products

These PCBs work well for applications where the main goal is for the completed assembly to function properly. They are suitable for products where basic performance is sufficient.

Class 2: Dedicated Service Electronic Products

These PCBs need to offer consistent performance and a longer lifespan. They are ideal for situations where uninterrupted service is important but not absolutely critical.

Class 3: High-Reliability Electronic Products

These PCBs are essential for critical applications where continuous operation is a must. and any equipment downtime is unacceptable. They demand the highest level of reliability to ensure performances.

Material Specifications

IPC 6012 specifies the materials that manufacturers should use. to ensure the PCBs meet the required performance standards. This includes the types of laminates, copper cladding, and other materials. that provide the necessary electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties..

Acceptance Criteria

The acceptance criteria outlined in IPC 6012 ensure that the PCBs meet the specified quality standards. These criteria cover various aspects of the PCB. including dimensional accuracy, layer alignment, hole quality, and surface finish.

Applications of IPC 6012

PCBs manufactured to IPC 6012 standards used in a wide range of applications. They are commonly found in consumer electronics, automotive systems, industrial controls. telecommunications, and aerospace technology. These PCBs are ideal for situations where reliability and performance are critical. ensuring that electronic devices function correctly and consistently.

Latest Revisions and Addendums of IPC 6012

The latest revision of IPC 6012 is the IPC-6012F, released in October 2023. This version introduces several new requirements. and expanded criteria to address the evolving needs of rigid printed board fabrication. Key updates include:

Expanded Requirements:

New guidelines cover printed board cavities, copper wrap plating, intermediate target lands. solderability testing, dewetting, microsection evaluation, internal plated layers, dielectric spacing. and reliability issues related to microvia structures.

Test Coupons:

IPC-6012F incorporates new test coupon designs specifically suited for evaluating complex. interconnected via structures to improve microvia reliability.

Edge Plating:

For the first time, IPC-6012F and IPC-2228 address design and performance requirements. for edge-plated printed boards, enhancing the durability and reliability of these PCBs.

Surface Finish and Coating:

Updates include more stringent criteria for final finishes. and surface plating to ensure better performance and reliability.

Additionally, several addendums to IPC-6012F provide tailored guidance for specific industries:

  • Military and Space Requirements: Addressing the unique needs of high-reliability applications in aerospace and defense.
  • Medical Applications: Ensuring compliance with stringent standards necessary for medical device manufacturing.
  • Automotive Requirements: Meeting the rigorous demands of automotive electronics, focusing on durability and long-term performance.
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Overview of IPC 6013

Definition and Scope

IPC 6013 defines the requirements for the qualification and performance of flexible PCBs. This standard covers various types of flexible circuits. including single-sided, double-sided, multilayer flex, and rigid-flex boards. IPC 6013 ensures these flexible PCBs meet specific performance criteria. making them suitable for a broad range of electronic applications.

Key Features and Requirements

IPC 6013 includes detailed requirements to ensure the quality and reliability of flexible PCBs. These requirements span the entire production process. from material selection and design through fabrication and testing. Adhering to these guidelines ensures consistent and reliable performance in the final product.

IPC-6013D Qualification and Performance Specification for flexible PCBs

Performance Class Levels

Class 1: General Electronic Products

Suitable for applications where the primary requirement is the function of the completed assembly.

Class 2: Dedicated Service Electronic Products

These require continued performance and extended life. where uninterrupted service is important but not critical.

Class 3: High-Reliability Electronic Products

These must function continuously in critical applications. . where equipment downtime is unacceptable, requiring the highest level of reliability.

Material Specifications

IPC 6013 specifies the materials used in flexible PCBs to meet the required performance standards. This includes the types of laminates, adhesives, and copper cladding. Proper material selection is crucial for achieving the desired flexibility. durability, and electrical performance of the finished PCB.

Acceptance Criteria

The acceptance criteria in IPC 6013 ensure that flexible PCBs meet the specified quality standards. These criteria cover various aspects of the PCB. including dimensional accuracy, layer alignment, hole quality, and surface finish.

Applications of IPC 6013

PCBs manufactured to IPC 6013 standards find use in a wide range of applications. They are particularly well-suited for products that require flexibility and reliability. such as wearable electronics, medical devices, automotive systems, and aerospace technology. These flexible PCBs are ideal for applications where space and weight savings are critical. and where the boards must endure bending and flexing during use.

Latest Revisions and Addendums of IPC 6013

The most recent revision of IPC 6013 is Revision E, released in September 2021. This update incorporates significant changes aimed at improving clarity. and addressing new requirements in the fabrication of flexible and rigid-flexible printed boards. Here are the key updates:

Copper Thickness Requirements:

Revision E overhauls the copper thickness requirements. differentiating between unplated and plated internal layers, as well as external plated layers. This change allows for more reduction of the initial base foil. provided the total copper thickness meets the requirements after plating.

Final Finishes:

The revision aligns final finish thickness requirements with new IPC standards (IPC-4552/4553/4554/4556). to avoid conflicts and unintended differences. This ensures consistency in the application of finishes such as tin, silver, and ENIG/ENEPIG.

Rigid-to-Flex Transition:

New explanations and visual aids clarify the acceptable. and rejectable conditions at the rigid-to-flex transition zones. This helps manufacturers better understand and manage potential delamination issues.

Foreign Inclusions:

Section expands to provide more detailed guidelines on the acceptability of foreign materials and cosmetic anomalies. which are more noticeable in transparent flex circuits.

Hole Pattern Accuracy:

Clarifications in paragraph 3.4.1 indicate that only holes specifically dimensioned on the drawing need. to inspected for pattern accuracy, simplifying the inspection process.

HDI Features:

The revision includes new guidelines for HDI features, such as blind and microvias. especially regarding via-in-pad configurations and the required dimple or bump height.

Etchback and Wicking:

Improved wording on maximum copper plating wicking conditions addresses previous confusion. though further revisions are expected to refine these requirements.

Microvia Structures:

New requirements ensure that both top and bottom via structures in microvias and blind vias are exposed to solder. necessitating additional testing for thermal stress.

Dewetting Clarifications:

Notes added to distinguish between natural variations in solder thickness due to mechanical issues and dewetting. which is not considered rejectable.

In addition to these updates, the IPC-6013E standard includes specific addendums. such as the Medical Applications Addendum. which outlines additional requirements for medical device PCBs​.

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Key Differences Between IPC 6012 and 6013

AspectIPC 6012IPC 6013
ScopeRigid Printed BoardsFlexible and Rigid-Flex Printed Boards
Types of PCBs CoveredSingle-sided, Double-sided, MultilayerSingle-sided, Double-sided, Multilayer, Rigid-Flex
Primary MaterialsFR-4, High-Frequency Laminates, Metal-CorePolyimide, Adhesives, Flexible Copper Laminates
Performance Class LevelsClass 1: General Electronic ProductsClass 1: General Electronic Products
Class 2: Dedicated Service Electronic ProductsClass 2: Dedicated Service Electronic Products
Class 3: High-Reliability Electronic ProductsClass 3: High-Reliability Electronic Products
Key Testing and InspectionElectrical Testing, Thermal Stress Testing, Plating Quality Inspection, Hole Wall Integrity, Dimensional AccuracyBend Tests, Surface Anomalies Inspection, Delamination Checks, HDI Features Testing, Integrity of Flexible Layers
Unique FeaturesFocus on robustness and stability for rigid applicationsFocus on flexibility and durability under dynamic conditions
Typical ApplicationsComputer Motherboards, Industrial Equipment, Consumer ElectronicsWearable Devices, Medical Equipment, Aerospace Components, Mobile Devices
Reliability FocusEnsures stability and robust performance under static conditionsEnsures performance under bending and flexing conditions

Structural Differences

Single-Sided, Double-Sided, and Multilayer PCBs (IPC 6012):

  • IPC 6012 focuses on rigid printed boards, which can be single-sided, double-sided, or multilayer. Single-sided PCBs have components on one side only. while double-sided PCBs have components on both sides. Multilayer PCBs stack multiple layers of circuits, separated by insulating materials. allowing for more complex designs and higher component density.
  • These rigid boards used in applications requiring stable and robust circuit structures. such as computer motherboards, industrial equipment, and consumer electronics.

Flexible and Rigid-Flex PCBs (IPC 6013):

  • IPC 6013 covers flexible and rigid-flex printed boards. Flexible PCBs use materials that allow the board to bend without damaging. Rigid-flex PCBs combine rigid and flexible board technologies. with some sections rigid and others flexible.
  • These boards are ideal for applications requiring flexibility. such as wearable devices, medical equipment, and aerospace components. where space and weight constraints are critical.

Material Differences

Materials for Rigid PCBs (IPC 6012):

  • IPC 6012 specifies materials like FR-4, a woven glass fabric with epoxy resin. which offers good electrical insulation, mechanical strength, and thermal stability. The copper layers are laminated to this substrate to form the circuitry.
  • Other materials can include high-frequency laminates and metal-core substrates for specific performance requirements.

Materials for Flexible and Rigid-Flex PCBs (IPC 6013):

  • IPC 6013 standards include materials like polyimide. which provides flexibility, thermal stability, and mechanical durability. These materials can bend without cracking. making them suitable for dynamic and static flex applications.
  • Adhesives and flexible copper laminates are also used to ensure the flexibility and integrity of the circuits.

Testing and Inspection Requirements

IPC 6012 Testing and Inspection:

  • IPC 6012 requires extensive testing to ensure the reliability of rigid PCBs. including electrical testing, thermal stress testing, and inspection of plating quality. hole wall integrity, and dimensional accuracy.
  • Specific tests, such as solderability and cleanliness tests. ensure that the PCBs meet performance standards and are free of defects that could affect functionality.

IPC 6013 Testing and Inspection:

  • IPC 6013 includes unique tests for flexible and rigid-flex PCBs. such as bend tests to verify the flexibility and durability of the boards. It also requires inspection for surface anomalies, delamination at rigid-to-flex transitions. and the integrity of flexible layers.
  • Tests for HDI features, including via-in-pad and microvias. ensure these intricate structures meet performance standards under flexing conditions.

Performance and Reliability Criteria

IPC 6012 Performance Criteria for Rigid PCBs:

  • IPC 6012 defines three performance classes based on the intended application: Class 1 (general electronic products). Class 2 (dedicated service electronic products), and Class 3 (high-reliability electronic products).
  • These classes determine the level of inspection and quality assurance needed. with Class 3 requiring the highest reliability for critical applications.

IPC 6013 Performance Criteria for Flexible and Rigid-Flex PCBs:

  • IPC 6013 also categorizes performance into similar classes. but with additional focus on the flexural performance and durability of the flexible sections. It ensures that the flexible circuits can withstand repeated bending and environmental stresses.
  • The standard ensures that flexible PCBs perform reliably in dynamic applications. where continuous or frequent movement occurs, such as in wearable technology or mobile devices.
  • By addressing these differences, manufacturers can choose the appropriate IPC standard. to ensure their PCBs meet the specific requirements .
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Importance of Choosing the Right Standard

Impact on Product Performance and Reliability

Choosing the right standard for your PCB, whether IPC 6012 or IPC 6013. That is crucial for ensuring optimal product performance and reliability. Here’s the difference between IPC 6012 and 6013 and how it affects your products:

Performance Consistency:

The right standard ensures that the PCB meets the required performance levels consistently. For example, rigid PCBs compliant with IPC 6012 offer stability and support high-speed circuits. which is essential for devices like computers and medical equipment.


Adhering to the standard means that the PCB can withstand the operational stresses it will encounter. IPC 6012-compliant PCBs provide robustness for automotive and industrial applications. ensuring long-term reliability even in harsh conditions. On the other hand, IPC 6013-compliant PCBs, with their flexibility, can endure repeated bending and flexing. which is crucial for wearable devices and aerospace applications.


Standards like IPC 6012 and IPC 6013 include guidelines for manufacturing processes. that ensure the safety of electronic devices. This is particularly important for critical applications in medical devices and aerospace. where failure could have severe consequences.

Industry-specific Requirements

Different industries have specific needs and standards. to ensure their products meet regulatory and operational expectations:

Automotive Industry:

The automotive sector demands high durability and resistance to temperature fluctuations. making IPC 6012-compliant PCBs a necessity for in-car electronics and control systems.

Medical Devices:

Medical electronics must meet high reliability. and performance standards due to their life-critical nature. IPC 6012 ensures rigid PCBs are up to the task, while IPC 6013 is perfect for flexible PCBs used in wearable medical devices.

Aerospace and Defense:

This sector often requires PCBs that can operate under extreme conditions and fit into compact, complex systems. IPC 6013 standards are ideal here due to the need for flexible and rigid-flex PCBs that can meet these stringent requirements.

Consumer Electronics:

With the trend towards smaller, more powerful devices. the flexibility of IPC 6013-compliant PCBs allows for innovative design. in products like foldable phones and wearable tech.

Cost Implications

Manufacturing Costs:

Complying with specific standards can influence the complexity and cost . IPC 6012-compliant PCBs might be less expensive to produce in bulk. due to the widespread use of rigid PCBs. However, the initial cost savings could be offset by higher failure rates if the PCBs are not suited to the application.

Product Lifecycle Costs:

Using the correct standard can reduce the overall cost of ownership. by minimizing failures and maintenance needs. For instance, IPC 6013-compliant PCBs, though potentially more expensive upfront. due to their specialized nature, can reduce costs over time by enhancing the durability and reliability of products. leading to fewer repairs and replacements.

Compliance and Certification Costs:

Ensuring compliance with industry standards might involve additional testing and certification. which can add to the upfront costs. However, these expenses are often justified by the improved marketability.

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