By Lars Wallin, IPC European Representative

During an electronic engineering managers brainstorming meeting in Sweden 2008, one of the local managers came up with the idea of organizing a “Swedish Championship for Hand Soldering” competition. The first competition took place at the local SEE (Swedish Electronic Event) in the spring of 2010 with 25 competitors vying to become the Swedish Hand Soldering Champion. To be able to have an impartial contest a special printed circuit board was developed for the competition. The functionality of the printed circuit board required that all components were placed and soldered correctly. There was no time limit to complete the board but the completing the functional board in the shortest time would be used as a tie breaker. In addition, all solder joints were inspected by IPC CIT (Certified IPC Trainers) from Note Ericsson and Flextronics in Sweden.

The first winner was a lady with many years of soldering experience employed by an EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Service) company located in Stockholm. At that time the first-place prize was an IPC 610 CIT course sponsored by one of the local IPC Training Centres.

The Swedish competition generated so much excitement in 2010 that IPC began to evaluate the Hand Soldering Competition process and the printed circuit board used for the IPC Hand Soldering World Wide Competition. The decision was made to change the printed circuit board design to meet the requirements for world-wide competition. It was also necessary to have common rules, which could be used in all corners of the world where hand soldering is used. The board would have an electrical function; the time limit would become 60 minutes and the board would be evaluated per IPC-A-610 Class 3 criteria by an IPC MIT (Master IPC Trainer). The judges would complete an evaluation form where points are provided based on the acceptance criteria and the winner is determined by the highest score.

The three top winners of the local IPC Hand Soldering Competitions, held in different worldwide locations, would receive cash awards. The winner of each location is given an opportunity to compete in the IPC World Hand Soldering Championship Competition arranged by IPC once a year. The first World Championship took place at IPC APEX EXPO 2011 in San Diego, with an American crowned as the World Champion, receiving $1000 prize for first place.

Between 2011 and today, regional IPC Hand Soldering Competitions have been organized in the USA, Germany, UK, Poland, Sweden, France, Italy, Russia, Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesian. The World Championships have been held in the USA and China. The number of competitors for the regional events has continually increased with many events exceeding capacity for competitors.

In 2017, IPC will arrange in Europe at least 6 regional IPC Hand Soldering Competitions and this year’s World Championship will be in Munich, Germany. The winners of the regional competitions in Europe and Asia will be competing in the IPC World Championship taking place in November 2017.

The first regional IPC Hand Soldering Competition in Europe 2017 will take place at SMT Hybrid Packaging 2017, located in Nurnberg, Germany May 16-18, 2017. Make sure you register your competitors, Register Now. You can also contact Lars Wallin, to register.