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42 SMT007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 Standards have been around in the indus- try as long as the industry itself. But if they are followed, does that mean that you'll have improved reliability? The answer is a famous one in certain circles; it depends on a few things, such as the product's intended use and warranty. If you are building something that must work only as it leaves the facility and is considered a Class I product, then reliability isn't something you need to worry about. But having been in electronics for just shy of 20 years, I can say that the next time we work on a Class I failure analysis project, it will pretty much be the first. Class I electronics serve a different purpose in life, and if they fail, it's normally not a big deal; instead, it's mainly a minor inconvenience. In this month's column, I'll speak to specifications for Class I, II, and III products per IPC definitions as well as the IPC standards process. Class I, II, and III The low-cost materials and disposable nature of Class I products basically preclude them from ever being labeled as high-reliability. Within IPC guidelines for Class I, the assem- bly guidelines are very different than Class II or Class III. This isn't necessarily a knock on Class I products by any means. IPC's defini- tion for Class I is "includes products suitable for applications where the major requirement is the function of the completed assembly." There's not a single word about reliability or critical nature of their intended use. Reliability by the Book Quest for Reliability Feature Column by Eric Camden, FORESITE INC. This simplified chart outlines the three IPC product classifications.

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