Most of us are familiar with at least of few of the philosophical giants of antiquity, such as Confucius, Buddha, Socrates and Plato. These deep thinkers have advanced a number of the truisms we take for granted in our daily lives. However, one of the least challengeable observations, “The only thing that is constant is change,” was put forth by the lesser known Ephesian, Heraclitus. Although a simple saying, it nevertheless epitomizes the continual evolution of the human story. Constant change can indeed be used to describe the electronics products industry, for instance. The demand for smaller, faster and more functional devices by consumers is a driving force behind the current industrial revolution, which includes changes in PCB manufacturing.

Industries like aerospace that produce and deploy critical electronics platforms continually seek enhanced reliability and security in products and processes. To realize these changing results, the quality management system (QMS) requirements for designers, developers, product and service providers for aerospace systems must continually evolve. The AS9100D standard encapsulates the latest of these evolutions. AS9100D, released in 2016 with a final transition deadline of September 15, 2018, serves as the current revision of the original QMS mandate for organizations that supply products and services to the aerospace industry. This revision presents specific changes that impact the process of PCB manufacture.


AS9100 was created to provide a global standard to control the quality of products and services delivered to the aerospace industry. To facilitate quality control at various levels, regulations were established to monitor and document the entire product supply chain. Through the AS9100C revision, the standard mandated organizations supplying products and services to aerospace entities to design, develop and maintain a QMS that is accountable and improvable. The importance of the latter of these attributes is evident by the devotion of an entire section, Section 8, to remedial requirements in AS9100C.

Under AS9100C, the predecessor to AS9100D, third party services and products providers, such as your PCB contract manufacturer (CM), were not required to be certified. Instead, suppliers and distributors in the aerospace industry were responsible for ensuring that their CM’s processes were monitorable and documentable. Moreover, the products and services provided, including those from your CM, had to meet customer requirements. As a substitute for AS9100C certification, your CM needed to support your conformity to the realization requirements of section 7. This could be accomplished by instituting good quality control (QC) during board fabrication, component procurement and PCB assembly.


AS9100D is much more than a simple revision of AS9100C; it is a significant expansion. The number of sections increased even though requirements for preventive action were removed. The additions include greater detail and specificity for documentation, leadership, planning and support of your QMS. The operations, monitoring and control of external processes like PCB manufacturing is further emphasized. Notable requirements that impact PCB manufacturing and the relationship with your CM can be found under section 8, subsections 3 and 4. These are listed below, along with suggestions for their implementation.

Section 8.3. Establishing a process to design and develop products and services

  • Engage your CM at the onset of design to:
    • Ensure that CM activities are included in your process design and development plan.
    • Ensure your CM has the capabilities and expertise to accommodate your product complexities
    • Ensure input (design files, BOM, etc.) compatibility with CM equipment.
    • create and document design reviews, validations, verifications and progression (for example, if your CM does design testing).
    • Ensure that any changes made prior to or during manufacturing are identified, controlled and reviewed (for example, PCB stackup modifications to adhere to thickness specifications, etc.).


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Section 8.4. Monitor and control external processes, products and services

  • Select a CM that
    • Will accept responsibility for their products and services
    • Will register with your organization as a provider of products and services
    • Will comply with periodic reviews of their performance
  • Work closely with your CM to
    • Ensure understanding of your organization’s process, product, service, component, outsourcing, information and special requirements.

As shown above, AS9100D increases the degree of emphasis placed on your relationship with external product and service providers and the number of specific requirements to which the CM you choose must adhere.

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Tempo Automation has long recognized the importance of establishing a symbiotic relationship with clients and the positive impact it has on the PCB design and development process. In fact, we continually strive to transform the PCB manufacturing landscape by implementing a “white box” approach to PCB manufacturing where the designer’s intent and manufacturing requirements are open and transparent.

And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want to learn more about the new AS9100D standard or how to incorporate these requirements into your design, contact us.

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