From the Hill: The Past 15 Years—Changes to MIL-PRF-31032 Certification, Part 1

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Fifteen years ago, when certification to MIL-PRF-31032 was in the early years, I authored an article about certification status. Now, it’s time to revisit the subject, data, and changes that have occurred since. In 2003, my article explained the new certification process for MIL-PRF-31032 (all military boards), identified the companies that had completed certification, and forecasted where it might go. In this column, I’ll examine the same data from 2018 and take another look at the future.

U.S. Military Requirements for PCBs
The U.S. military segment of the printed circuit board (PCB) industry is small but strategically important to the country and the world. Assuring a reliable supply of such boards is the task of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) located in Columbus, Ohio. The main DLA tools for verifying capable supply bases are the military specifications for printed wiring boards. There are three main specifications: MIL-PRF-31032 (all boards), MIL-PRF-55110 (rigid PCBs), and MIL-PRF-50884 (flexible PCBs).

For 50 years, MIL-PRF-55110 and MIL-PRF-50884 were the only specifications available; however, in 1995, MIL-PRF-31032 was introduced to encompass both of these documents, add some quality systems requirements, and to shift much of the quality control and quality assurance responsibility to the supplier. It took about three years for MIL-PRF-31032 to be understood in the industry and be used.
PCB Fabrication Sites Certified to MIL-PRF-31032
In August 2003, there were only 19 company sites (17 in the U.S. and two in Canada) qualified to the new MIL-PRF-31032, and 111 certified to the MIL-PRF-55110 (legacy standard for rigid boards). These 130 public company locations produced 100% of the boards that were required to meet one of these two standards.
Fast forward 15 years to 2018 and we have 52 company locations certified to the 31032 Qualified Manufacturers List (QML) plus 120 companies still on the 55110 Qualified Products List (QPL). Comparing the total in 2018 (52 + 120 = 172) versus 2003 (19 + 111 = 130), there appears to be a 32% increase in the total.
This is an excerpt of Mike's column that appears in the August 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine. To read the entire column, click here.



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