Solicitation for Input for IPC-2581 RevC

Dear IPC 2-l6 Committee Member,

Last year was a watershed year for the IPC-2581 standard. A broad cross-section of printed circuit board software suppliers, OEMs, equipment suppliers, manufacturers, and service suppliers, having implemented IPC-2581 both in trial and in production use, provided significant positive feedback to the IPC 2-16 committee regarding their experiences utilizing the standard to produce PCB products. Working closely with the IPC-2581 Consortium's Technical Committee many of these adopters proposed feature enhancements leading to IPC-2581B Amendment 1, published in January of this year. This release supports the most comprehensive set of industry requirements for printed circuit board fabrication, assembly, and test in a data-centric, open, license-free, industry driven standard format. On behalf of the IPC 2-1-6 Committee I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all who participated in this effort.

That stated, we recognize there is still more work to be done.

Moving forward the 2-16 technical committee is actively soliciting input from industry for the next major revision of the IPC-2581 standard. Regardless of your present IPC-2581 adoption status we want to hear from each of vou. The objective of this next round of enhancements is to eliminate risk and inefficiency in your day-to-day operations, and streamline your production processes. To accomplish this objective, we need to understand where each of you experiences "bottlenecks" requiring inordinate amounts of time and effort to be expended to collate, review, and interpret your customer's drawings, documents, and data. This may include activities necessary to transform, translate, and re-enter the information, and/or where you encounter the need to pause design or manufacturing operations to solicit additional information from the customer/supplier to insure their requirements/information are adequately understood and verified. The intent is for IPC-2581 files to be complete and consistent in the initial delivery, and that its content be structured in a machine-readable form to enable automated design and manufacturing operations from producer to consumer throughout the product life cycle. This, once achieved, eliminates manual, labor intensive and error prone human interactions wherever they exist.

Industry proposed enhancements are already being captured by the technical committee. Examples of these include:

  • Support for bare board stack-up structures including multiple zones for Flex and Rigid-Flex
  • Enhanced ability to communicate comprehensive requirements for impedance controlled elements
  • Representation for fabrication and assembly including embedded component technologies
  • Support for multi-level bond pads and wire-bond constructs
  • Enhanced support for complex drilled and milled features
  • Enhanced support for complex via structures
  • 3D model support for conveying complex assembly details
  • Enhanced DFx collaboration
  • Embedded schemas, external links, and other methods of defining comprehensive requirements for a product
  • Support of Variant Bill-Of-Materials
  • Enhanced support for polarized parts
Please take a moment to consider our solicitation for input. lf you are the correct point of contact in your organization I would respectfully request a response regarding your interest in participating in the requirements definition process. lf there are other subject-matter-experts within your organization better suited to discuss these specific (or any other) requirements please forward this request to them and if deemed appropriate, pass their contact information back to me to plan follow-up with them directly.

Respectfully yours,
Gary Carter
IPC 2-16 Committee Co-Chair

Ballot for IPC-2581 B Amendment 1 Passes

It was announced at the IPC-2581 Consortium Technical Committee Meeting on June 29th, that the Ballot process for the approval of “IPC-2581B Amendment 1” had met the requirements for approval with a more the 90% participant vote, all of which were in the affirmative. The ballot officially closed on July 6 whereby IPC-2581B Amendment 1 was declared “Approved”. Again, the effort put forth by the IPC-2581 Consortium Technical Committee, in conjunction with the IPC 2-16 Laminate Sub-committee, and the IPC 2-40 Electronic Documentation Sub-committee has succeeded in improving and adapting the IPC-2581 format to support the growing technology and information requirements in the Design to Manufacturing process. The IPC-2581 specification document and schema are now in the process of preparation for publication.

PCB West Update from the IPC-2581 Consortium

IPC-2581 Consortium participated in PCB West 2015 on September 16th. PCB West this year, was an impressive conference that hosted many members of the PCB design and supply chain companies, including booths from the IPC-2581 Consortium and 13 of its members. In contrast to previous years, when the questions asked at the booth were “who are you” and “what do you do,” the questions this year revolved more around the tools that support IPC-2581 and the data that it contains. The knowledge that conference attendees had of IPC-2581 shows that the awareness of IPC-2581 has grown greatly in the PCB design environment. 

Read more: PCB West Update from the IPC-2581 Consortium

IPC-2581 Consortium at PCB West 2015

As we have previously stated in our “PCB West 2015” article, the IPC-2581 Consortium will be attending PCB West 2015! Visit us at Booth 610 to speak with a representative of the IPC-2581 Consortium, where we will demonstrate the input and export of IPC-2581 from different tools. The IPC-2581 Consortium will also be hosting a Free Design Session, “An Update on Design Data Transfer Using IPC-2581.” Hemant Shah of Cadence Design Systems on behalf of the Consortium will be presenting on Wednesday, September 16th, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.


Along with the IPC-2581 Consortium, there will be 13 members with booths at PCB West. Of the 13 members, 6 will be participating in this year’s IPC-2581 Consortium passport program contest. On Wednesday, September 16th, with the passport you can travel to each of the six Consortium member’s booths to get it stamped. Once you have stamps from ADIVA (Booth 409), ALTIUM (Booth 311), Cadence (Booth 406), Downstream Technologies (Booth 506), Sierra Circuits (Booth 408), Zuken (Booth 413), and the IPC-2581 Consortium (Booth 610) you will be able to return the passport to the Consortium booth and be entered for a chance to win one of six great prizes. 

Read more: IPC-2581 Consortium at PCB West 2015

IPC-2581 B1 Update

The 2-16 Product Data Description (Laminar View) Subcommittee (IPC-2581) met in February during the IPC APEX Expo in San Diego CA. At this meeting final details for amendments and document updates as well as slight Schema modifications were addressed. The main focus of the meeting was to focus on an amendment of IPC-2581 Revision B to IPC-2581 Revision B1.  

As part of the B1 modification, more descriptions, enumerated type and qualified string enhancements were made to enable adoption of 2581 Revision B without any structural changes to the schema. Examples for enhancements include, but are not limited to items such as more layer use type descriptions (flex type materials, masks, etc.), additional properties for parts and stack-up objects. The IPC-2581 Schema Document was also updated to record the new enhancements, correct spelling, and updated items overlooked between the schema and the document.

Read more: IPC-2581 B1 Update

Latest IPC-2581 Revision Gaining Widespread Appeal

Enhancements to the stackup and assembly data have the supply chain signing on to the electronics data transfer format.

Eighteen months ago, Fujitsu Networks Communications CAD engineering manager Gary Carter shipped CAD files for a 12-layer PCB in the IPC-2581A format to a major board fabricator. The fabricator responded, asking for a drawing and profile information. It’s all there, Carter said, it just has to be derived from the CAD file.

The fabricator proceeded, and other than missing some data for machine routing for cutouts and V groove, Carter recalls, “They worked around what their CAM tool couldn’t handle, and they built it.”

Read more: Latest IPC-2581 Revision Gaining Widespread Appeal

Industry Moves to Make IPC-2581 the Way to Share Printed Circuit Board Information


The techniques used for moving printed board design data to manufacturing have many shortcomings, but the industry has never settled on a single approach for transferring data. Over the past couple of years, IPC and the IPC-2581 Consortium have teamed up in a concerted effort to change that.

With help from the consortium, IPC recently released IPC-2581B, Generic Requirements for Printed Board Assembly Products Manufacturing Description Data and Transfer Methodology. It was completed in a short 12-month timeframe. That quick cycle underscores the high level of interest that brought together companies from throughout the supply chain.

Read more: Industry Moves to Make IPC-2581 the Way to Share Printed Circuit Board Information

What's Good About Allegro PCB Editor IPC 2581 Data Transfer Standard? 16.6 Has It!


The 16.6 Allegro PCB Editor now has IPC 2581 data transfer capabilities. Thanks to Ed Hickey – the Allegro Sr. Product Engineering Manager - for preparing this information below.

Read on for more details …

IPC 2581 Overview

PCBs have changed significantly over the past three decades, yet to the surprise of many, we still commonly use 30-year-old ways of communicating design intent to manufacturing. These decades old data-communication formats were originally conceived to drive the emerging numerically controlled machines. The Gerber format, properly implemented, is perfectly adequate to transfer image data, but it does not transfer stackup data, materials, design intent or netlist.  IPC, the trade group, has been aware of the challenges and dynamics of the PCB design and manufacturing segment and has been an ardent advocate for the replacement of old data-communication formats.

In early 2001, iNEMI (the International National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative) stepped in to lead a broad, industry-wide project to define the definitive data exchange convergence specification. The goal was to enable accurate, efficient data exchange between designers and manufacturers of printed circuit boards (PCB) and assemblies using a single XLM-based data exchange format. From this effort, an IPC committee developed a new standard, IPC-2581, Generic Requirements for Printed Board Assembly Products Manufacturing Description Data and Transfer Methodology; it was released in March 2004.

Read more: What's Good About Allegro PCB Editor IPC 2581 Data Transfer Standard? 16.6 Has It!


PCB West Update: How IPC-2581 Data Transfer Standard is Moving Forward

Last year the PCB West conference held a lively panel discussion about data transfer formats for PCB design and manufacturing. Most panelists and many audience members were enthusiastic about IPC-2581, a vendor-neutral, "intelligent" format that can potentially replace many of the various formats in use today. At this year's PCB West September 26, 2012, two representatives of the IPC-2581 Consortium updated the progress that's been made towards this emerging standard.

Here's some quick background. The venerable Gerber format can transfer image data to manufacturing, but it can't transfer stackup data, materials information, design intent, or netlists. Therefore, PCB designers typically ship multiple files in multiple formats to fabrication and assembly houses. One attempt to create a more inclusive, intelligent format was ODB++, but since the 2010 acquisition of Valor Computerized Systems by Mentor Graphics, that format has been owned by Mentor. Thus, there's a renewed push behind IPC-2581, which was originally released in 2004, as a PCB CAD vendor-neutral format.

Read more: PCB West Update: How IPC-2581 Data Transfer Standard is Moving Forward

IPC-2581 Consortium: A Great Stride Forward

IPC-2581 consortium held a chat session yesterday on Printed Circuit University, which had been cordially supported and actively participated by professionals in the industry. So far, there were more than 1000 visitors to IPC-2581 Consortium Chat. The moderators, led by Gary Carter from Fujitsu, answered more than 20 questions during the one hour session. The most frequently asked questions were around why IPC-2581 and what could be improved by adopting IPC-2581. In answering these questions, Gary listed several benefits of adopting IPC-2581. First of all, IPC-2581 is truly an standard developed by an internationally recognized body IPC. Secondly, IPC-2581 could improve efficiency by eliminating data interpretation and documents to drive PCB fabrication, assembly and test operations. If you adopt IPC-2581, you will have improved support for drilled/routed content, improved embedded component support and improved support to net-list for manufacturing testability.

 Although the moderators tried their best to answer all the questions submitted, the one hour time was still not long enough. It shows data transfer has been an area of high interest to the industry. In order to enable, facilitate and drive the use of IPC-2581 in the industry, all consortium members will be willing to respond to all concerns and questions that people might have with IPC-2581. So if you miss the IPC-2581 Chat session on Wednesday, don’t worry. You can contact us directly on our website Also, the consortium will be presenting a poster next week (February 28 – March 1) at IPC Apex Expo (San Diego, CA) and will have a booth there as well, where members can answer your questions about the new standard. 

Read more: IPC-2581 Consortium: A Great Stride Forward

IPC-2581: Consortium Leads the Way in 2011


2011 has been another eventful year in the PCB industry. As with all industries, we have seen our share of good news and bad news, mergers and acquisition, product announcements, plant expansions and company closings. But for me, there was one announcement that stood head and shoulders above the rest fro news worthiness: the formation of the IPC-2581 Consortium.

The IPC-2581 Consortium's charter is simple: To accerlerate the adoption of IPC-2581 as an open, neutrally maintained global standard to encourage innovation, improve efficiency and reduce costs. The members of the consortium will openly support and promote the adoption and usage of IPC-2581 by enabling their products, offerings and services to import/ export/ consume IPC-2581.

Read More: IPC-2581 Consortium Leads the Way in 2011

Intercept Announces Support for IPC-2581


Intercept Technology Inc., a leader in PCB/Hybrid/RF electrical engineering applications, announced support for IPC-2581 today. It is the fourteenth company in the industry that officially announced support IPC-2581 and join IPC-2581 consortium.

“Intercept has always been a strong supporter of open data transfer, and continues to support such efforts with our commitment to provide the IPC-2581 file format. As one of the few vendors that still utilize open ASCII formats for all of its output files, the IPC-2581 will be added to Intercept’s suite of ASCII manufacturing output options within the next year. Intercept strongly supports vendor collaboration for the promotion of improved design and manufacture practices, and is pleased to be a part of the IPC-2581 Consortium.”

Read more: Intercept Announces Support for IPC-2581

Spirited discussion at PCB West ———— More companies join IPC-2581 Consortium


After successful panel discussion and booth display of IPC-2581 Consortium on PCB West on September 28th, more companies are joining the consortium to accelerate the use of IPC-2581 in the industry. The new members are Artwork Conversion Software, Inc and EasyLogix Software Development.

 On October 1, 2011, Artwork Conversion Software announced in Santa Cruzthat that it is joining the IPC 2581 consortium and will develop an IPC2581 readerthat will bolt together with several of their translation engines used by electronicdesigners.

  “Supporting IPC2581 will enable our board design users and our OEM partners to work with any type of intelligent board data files that their end users require of them.”

 They also promised that the development of the 2581 parser will be completed in Q1 2012 and first translators using the IPC2581 front end will be available 30 days thereafter.

Read more: Spirited discussion at PCB West ———— More companies join IPC-2581 Consortium

IPC-2581 Panel: A Spirited Discussion on PCB Data Transfer Formats


A lively panel discussion Sept. 29 revealed that PCB designers have some strong opinions about the data formats that convey design intent to manufacturing. Several audience members expressed support for the Gerber data format that has been around for over 30 years. But other audience members and panelists agreed that a more intelligent and up-to-date format is needed, and that an open industry standard called IPC-2581 appears to be the best way forward.

The panel, titled "Data Transfer in the 21st Century," was held at the PCB West conference in Santa Clara, California. The moderator was Mike Buetow, editorial director of the UP Media Group. Panelists were as follows, shown left to right in the photo below:

  • Hemant Shah, product marketing director, Cadence
  • Rick Almeida, founder and director of marketing, DownStream Technologies
  • Max Clark, product marketing manager, Valor division, Mentor Graphics
  • Dana Korf, director of product engineering, Sanmina-SCI
  • Gary Carter, CAD engineering manager, Fujitsu Network Communication

Read More:  IPC-2581 Panel: A Spirited Discussion on PCB Data Transfer Formats