IPC Compliance Testing 
and Destructive Physical Analysis (DPA)

IPC COMPLIANCE TESTING AND DESTRUCTIVE PHYSICAL ANALYSIS (DPA)—This is a comprehensive screening for quality assurance and is the best known method to identify assembly, component, board fabrication or design issues.

The program consists of External Visual and X-ray inspections to look for signs of questionable workmanship. Specific pin locations on suspect components are then cross-sectioned to verify the condition. Via holes are selected to verify plating quality, registration, etc., and to look for any internal fabrication issues.

The results from all inspections are compared to the applicable sections of IPC-A-610F for assemblies or IPC-A-600H for board fabrication. The acceptability conditions based on these standards are given for each component location.

Board cleanliness can be performed prior to destructive testing to determine if flux residues or surface contaminants are active or benign. The methods used are Critical Cleanliness Control (C3) spot testing or full bag extraction. The rinse fluid from these tests can be subjected to Ion Chromatography (IC) to identify and quantify the species of ionic contaminants from the assembly.

USES & LIMITATIONS OF IPC Compliance Testing and DPA:

    • What it is great for:
      • Destructive Physical Analysis (DPA) is a comprehensive quality assessment for workmanship on Printed Circuit Board Assemblies (PCBAs).
      • Best-known method for determining quality of boards, components, design and assembly processes. (Sample size is typically one assembly.)
      • Ionic cleanliness testing can be also added to determine if assembly process residues are benign (including Critical Cleanliness Control (C3) sport testing for local areas and Full Bag Extraction for cleanliness of the entire assembly)
      • Rinse fluid from tests can be analyzed with Ion Chromatography (IC) to identify and quantity the ionic species extracted. 
      • Evaluation consists of external visual, X-ray and cross-section inspections
    • Limitations:
      • Destructive tests results in boards that cannot be returned 
IPC Member Covalent Metrology


Q2 Through-Pin transistor displayed. One pin shows incomplete hole-fill per IPC-A-610G, sec 7.3.5. Acceptability to be determined by cross-sectioning.
(please see next image)


Confirmation of insufficient hole-fill (same as image above). Suspect pin targeted for cross-sectioning. Transistor Through-Pin showing hole-fill approximately 58%, which is a defect (class 2, 3) per IPC-A-610G, sec  
SMT connector showing acceptable alignment and heel fillets per IPC-A-610G, sec 8.3.5 for all three classes of product.
BGA solder joints showing acceptable solder ball size, shape, and spacing per IPC-A-610G, sec 8.3.12 for all three classes of product.
Irregular shaped BGA solder joint, which is a process indicator per IPC-A-610G, sec for collapsing balls for class 2 & 3 products.
Press-Fit connector showing no damaged pins, which is acceptable per IPC-A-610G, sec 9.10 for all three classes of product.
C1 SMT Capacitor showing fractured solder (heel fillet crack), which is a defect per IPC-A-610G, sec 5.2.9 for all three classes of product.
BGA solder joint showing a Head in Pillow (HiP) condition, which is a defect per IPC-A-610G, sec 8.3.12 for all three classes of product.
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