Enclosure standard addresses meaty issues

Creating a sandwich in my house is pretty straightforward, any available meat goes on bread or a reasonable facsimile thereof. But creating a full meal involves all kinds of options, from spices to vegetables to drinks, and each option has plenty of choices.

Moving upward in the food chain is equally challenging as IPC enters a new area with what’s generally called the Box Build document. IPC-A-630, “Requirements and Acceptance for Enclosures, High Performance Applications” addresses the many variables that come when circuit boards are put into boxes used in military and aerospace applications.

Choices include connectors, the materials used for boxes, the choice of fasteners and the amount of torque used to tighten them. Then there are colors.

“There are hundreds of shades of black, once you pick one you need to start talking about gloss levels,” said Dave Torp, IPC vice president of standards & technology, who’s shepherding the creation of a handbook. “There are a lot more options in enclosures than when you put a chip on a circuit board.”

That handbook, which will probably run over 700 pages, is making steady progress as it nears its first anniversary. The approximately 40 people on the committee represent companies ranging from plane makers like Boeing to enclosure suppliers like Elma. IPC-A-630 Requirements for Structural Enclosure Task Group (7-31j) is co-chaired by two representatives of two large suppliers: Richard Rumas of Honeywell Canada and Eddie Hofer of Rockwell Collins.

A year into the effort, the group guesses it’s nearing the halfway point. Torp predicts that IPC-A-630 will be ready for publication in about 18 months. Even so, that’s pretty quick for the development of a best practices guidebook in an area where there are no guidelines.

The 7-31j task group will meet on Monday, September 27, at 1:30 pm at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.

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