Mr. Laminate Tells All: IPC-4101 Validation Services—The QPL Lives Again

When the electronics industry transitioned from the military standard MIL-S-13949 to the industry standard IPC-4101 in 1997, the electronics supply chain lost something fundamental: the Qualified Products List (QPL) for all the laminate and prepreg materials. This was the go-to list for anyone purchasing base materials for printed boards—not only for military applications but for consumer products, automotive applications, communication electronics and the computer industry. The industry also lost the list of base materials suppliers who were the trusted partners of the board shops and OEMs alike.        

I remember when IPC-4101 was completed and released in December 1997 and the question came up: “Should IPC create a policeman program to enforce it?” To a person that helped create IPC-4101, absolutely nobody wanted such an audit program ever again, including me. But 20 years later everyone would say that this was a mistake based on the response from OEMs and EMS companies that participated in a recent IPC survey. Of the people surveyed, 86% saw value in an IPC registration base for a Qualified Manufacturer’s List (QML) and a QPL. Why? It was reported that some suppliers of base materials certifying to IPC-4101 were not following the manufacturing and testing protocol required in the document. The products were not being Qualification Tested as outlined in paragraphs 3-1 and 3-2 of IPC-4101. There were no IPC-1730 Self-Declaration reports as required. The supply chain was no longer trusted.

In the last 18 months, IPC has created and implemented a new QPL program for IPC-4101. The QPL program involves an audit of the base material supplier to IPC-4101 and a set of Qualification Tests pursuant IPC-4101E Table 3-1. The IPC website now lists three trusted base-material suppliers (TUC, Ventec and Arlon) and QPLs covering six IPC-4101E specification sheets:

doug_table.jpg

For these six specification sheets, there are 28 individual products that have been qualification tested and QPL listed. The test reports which show the test data for all of the performance characteristics for each product on the QPL are clickable links. The test reports show the actual data from the testing not just indicating as “passed.” 

The companies that pass the qualification audit and the qualification testing are free to advertise the IPC QPL logo on their business cards, letterhead and as part of their trade show booths. Arlon showed everyone their success with the IPC-4101 QPL at IPC APEX EXPO 2018 in San Diego.        

IPC also actively markets the companies listed on the QPL to OEMs, EMS facilities and printed board suppliers. The listings and the test reports on the IPC website are free and available to anybody in the world who is looking for a trusted supplier. A number of OEMs are considering making it mandatory that CCL and prepreg used in their products must come from the IPC-4101 QPL.

Any company that is interested in in the Validation Services Program should contact Randy Cherry at IPC (randycherry@ipc.org).

Doug Sober is the president of Essex Technologies Group.

 

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2018

Mr. Laminate Tells All: IPC-4101 Validation Services—The QPL Lives Again

04-24-2018

When the electronics industry transitioned from the military standard MIL-S-13949 to the industry standard IPC-4101 in 1997, the electronics supply chain lost something fundamental: the Qualified Products List (QPL) for all the laminate and prepreg materials.

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IEC TC111 and the Ban on PTFE: Update

01-18-2018

When Steve Tisdale and I last wrote about this subject, TC111 of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the ad hoc group, PT63031, was preparing a draft of a standard that would effectively ban PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) materials from electronics.

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2017

PTFE is About to be Banned by IEC TC111

07-10-2017

There, I said it. Technical Committee 111 of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is preparing to effectively ban PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) materials from electronics. As history goes, the electronics industry has focused on only two of the four halogens (bromine and chlorine) to be limited in order to be called “halogen-free” or more accurately “low-halogen.” But now, fluorine is being dragged down too, just because of its location in the periodic table.

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2016

The Certification of IPC-4101D Polyimide Base Materials: Buyer Beware

11-22-2016

At one of the IPC meetings held in Rosemont, Illinois, one of the hot topics of discussion at the Laminate and Prepreg Subcommittee was the three polyimide specification sheets.

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CEM-3 Reinvents Itself (Again)—or, Atari Game Boards on eBay?

02-10-2016

CEM-3 was unusual as the reinforcement was a combination of woven fiber-glass fabric and fiber-glass paper. The resin system was a dicy-cured epoxy resin yielding a Tg the same as FR-4 at the time, of 110–120°C range. Because it was all epoxy and all fiberglass, the properties were electrically identical to those of FR-4.

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Who Would Like a Mil-Spec Audit?

01-05-2016

I remember when IPC-4101 was completed and released in December 1997 and the question came up “should IPC create a policeman program to enforce it?” To a person that helped create IPC-4101, absolutely no one wanted such an audit program ever again. Including me and the IPC staff liaisons. Maybe we should have rethought that position.

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2015

Mr. Laminate Tells All: Where in the Holy Halogens did 900, 900, 1500 Come From?

11-12-2015

The 900, 900, 1500 is not a combination to an enormous safe that contains the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, nor is it the weight of three elephants at the San Diego Zoo in kilograms. The 900, 900, 1500 is the maximum parts per million (ppm) of bromine and chlorine and the total bromine and chlorine in a material that can be defined as “halogen-free” in the electronics industry today. But where did these requirements come from? Clearly, 900 ppm of bromine or chlorine is obviously not halogen-free. Some would argue that it is not even low-halogen at all.

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