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IPC-6012 or IPC-A-600: Which Standard Should You Use?

The association connecting electronics industries – commonly known as IPC – is an international trade association serving the printed circuit board and electronics assembly industries since 1957.

Author headshot: Lucy Iantosca

By Lucy Iantosca

October 21, 2020  |  4 Comments

Institute of printed circuits constantly publish performance documents that govern practices in the PCB industry. Two of such documents are IPC-6012 and IPC-A-600.

The association connecting electronics industries – commonly known as IPC – is an international trade association serving the printed circuit board and electronics assembly industries since 1957.

We will be focusing on the below points in this blog post.

  • What does IPC stand for?
  • What is IPC-6012?
  • What is IPC-A- 600?
  • Difference between IPC-6012 and IPC-A-600
  • IPC-6012 or IPC-A-600 which standard is right?

What does IPC stand for?

Initially known as Institute for Printed Circuits, the organization changed its name to the Institute for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits. IPC has taken the lead in generating new standards for PCB materials, design, qualification, and performance of PCBs.

What is IPC-6012?

IPC-6012: Quality and performance specification for rigid printed circuit board. IPC-6012 is the specification that establishes the performance and qualification requirements for the fabrication of rigid boards. These specifications are applicable to the technologies listed below:

What is IPC-A-600?

IPC-A-600: Acceptability of Printed Boards. IPC-A-600 – also called IPC-600 – sets the level of acceptance criteria for each class of product. It describes the ideal, admissible, and non-negotiable conditions that are observable on printed boards. It represents the visual interpretation of minimum requirements set forth in various printed board specifications such as the IPC-6010 series.

The visual illustrations in the IPC-A-600 document portray specific criteria of the performance requirements of the applicable IPC-6010 series document. Customers and manufacturers can also agree on acceptance criteria that will replace the requirements of the appropriate IPC standard.

What’s the difference between IPC-6012 and IPC-A-600?

IPC-6012 or IPC-A-600? What is the difference between these documents? This could be a tricky question that is running in the industry right now.

IPC-6012 is a performance specification document. It defines default requirements and the specifications for each class of PCBs (class 1, class 2, and class 3).

The PCBs that fall under the class 1 category is the general electric boards with a minimal life and simpler function, such as the boards used in remote controls.

Class 2 PCBs are service electronic products with an extended life. These boards are typically used in television, a computer, or an air conditioner.

Class 3 PCBs have tighter tolerances when compared to class 1 and class 2 PCBs. These PCBs are commonly used in military applications, medical equipment, and the aerospace industry.


IPC Class 3 Design Guide - Cover Image

IPC Class 3 Design Guide

8 Chapters - 23 Pages - 35 Minute Read
What's Inside:
  • IPC guidelines for manufacturing defects
  • IPC standards for assembly processes
  • Common differences between the classes
  • IPC documents to set the level of acceptance criteria



Both the documents, the IPC-6012 and the IPC-A-600, are applicable for rigid printed circuit boards. IPC-6012 provides the actual acceptance criteria whereas IPC- A-600 simply provides the visual interpretations of those requirements showing examples of acceptable and rejectable versions of those requirements.

IPC-6012 or IPC-A-600, which standard is right?

When we have to fabricate the rigid PCBs, IPC 6012 is the spec we need to use. This document establishes the requirements that manufacturers have to meet for all three classes of boards.


IPC-6012 and IPC-A-600 are two of the primary guiding documents, also called performance and inspection documents. IPC-6012 is the specification and IPC-A-600 is the visual representation of the IPC-6012 document. They both work hand in hand.

However, manufacturers like Sierra Circuits inspect their boards at their PCB assembly facility with the help of IPC-A-600.

Sierra is capable of certifying to IPC-6012, IPC-6013, IPC-6015, IPC-6018, as well as IPC-A-600. 

Better DFM by Sierra Circuits


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