IPC-2581 Consortium Update Print E-mail
Written by Hemant Shah   
Friday, 31 May 2013 21:51

Up next for the task group: defining build-intent.

A very large percentage of PCB designs today are sent to manufacturing using a myriad of different file formats. The correlation between the data in these different file formats becomes the responsibility of the manufacturer and their partner at the systems company. Much time and effort is spent in automating this process to ensure that the data provided meet the designer’s fabrication, assembly and test intentions. For small companies it’s typically manual.

IPC-2581 replaces this process of providing multiple files in different formats (that requires an efficient methodology to be successful) and saves millions of dollars wasted by its inadequacies. As with any data format specification, adoption accelerates only after the supply chain produces, consumes and supports such a specification. A consortium of PCB design and supply chain companies was created to bring companies together to enable, facilitate and drive use of IPC-2581. The charter of the IPC-2581 Consortium is to accelerate the adoption of IPC-2581 as an open, neutrally maintained global standard to encourage innovation, improve efficiency and reduce costs.

The consortium is open to any PCB design/supply chain company that is prepared to adopt its goals/objectives and commit to a roadmap for IPC-2581 adoption.

Major milestones. As with any standard that describes the entire PCB data, it is important to ensure it is interpreted correctly by all the software that produces and consumes the data. As such, the consortium set an aggressive goal of validating that the producers and consumers interpreted fabrication data accurately by end of January 2012, with a goal of fabricating the first PCB by September 2012. These goals were met. From the startup in mid 2011 through January 2012, consortium members developed software that produced and consumed PCB design data in IPC-2581 format. During the validation process they identified and addressed specification interpretation issues, discovered, compiled and tracked extensions needed to improve efficiency further.

Throughout 2011 and the first half of 2012, the consortium added new members. Three of the consortium members – Fujitsu Network Communications, Wise Software and CC Electronics – collaborated to build the first PCB using only IPC-2581 data. They discovered that the board was built with no iterations between CC Electronics and Fujitsu and that the fabrication setup time was reduced by 30% over the traditional approach of using multiple files in different formats. This first PCB was demonstrated at PCB West last September.

Today, the consortium has 46 members from the electronics supply chain and continues to grow. Eight software companies have released software that supports IPC-2581, and four others plan to support IPC-2581 in the near future. Complete information on the IPC-2581 support status with software version numbers is listed at ipc2581.com/index.php/validation-status.

Bi-directional build-intent collaboration. More recently, the consortium is on track to extend the standard beyond that which any other approach can do. Members have begun working on extending the standard to enable build-intent collaboration between PCB manufacturers and design houses before layout begins. Consortium members brainstormed this idea and developed a proposal in 2012, then proposed it at an IPC working group meeting hosted by Cadence in Chelmsford, MA. Active participation from the members has made it possible to innovate through improvements in the IPC-2581 standard. In addition to extending the standard to exchange build-intent (stack ordering, material types, etc.) before the layout begins, the next version of IPC-2581 will include the following changes:

  • Ability to define build-intent through stack ordering, material types, technology attributes, stack-up composites.
  • Expanded BoM section to include stackup.
  • Geometry object fill types, line types, user-defined primitives.
  • Backdrilling support.
  • Pin one, origin/orientation standard criteria, pick-up point for packages.
  • Pad stack reference definitions.
  • Z-axis definition, V-groove cavity/slot support.
  • Ability to add more notes on design intent in the Spec section.

Companies across the entire PCB design and supply chain companies – from software companies that develop PCB design and manufacturing tools to systems companies to manufacturers – are collaborating on the standard. The IPC-2581 Consortium is continuing to accelerate the adoption of IPC-2581 as an open, neutrally maintained global standard to encourage innovation, improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Hemant Shah is product marketing director, Cadence Design Systems (cadence.com); This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Friday, 31 May 2013 23:15




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