Electronics Manufacturing Acronyms: WTH?

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Electronics Manufacturing Acronyms

We all take shortcuts with language–whether we’re texting LOL or using “ROY G BIV” to help us keep track of the color spectrum. The manufacturing world is no exception, and if you’re not familiar with the terminology, it can feel like the people in this industry are talking a completely different language.

To help you navigate the alphabet soup of manufacturing, we’re providing a handy Manufacturing Acronym to English Reference Guide for you. Here is a list of the most common acronyms you may come across:


AC – Alternating Current: An alternating current varies with time. This term is commonly applied to a power source that switches polarity in the shape of a sinusoidal, square, or triangular wave many times per second.

ANOVA – Analysis of Variance: Statistically evaluating experimental results through a systematic method to separate the sources of variation.

AOI – Automated Optical Inspection: A testing method used to check printed circuit boards for defects and premature failure. During this test, a camera autonomously scans the device.

AQL – Acceptance Quality Level: The contractually tolerable maximum number of defectives likely to exist within a population (lot). This is normally associated with statistically derived sampling plans.

ATE – Automatic Test Equipment: Equipment that evaluates functional or static parameters to assess performance degradation or perform fault isolation.

ATG – Automatic Test Generation: Automatic tests–with little or no manual programming–generated by a computer and based on solely on the circuit technology.

AVL – Approved Vendor List: The list of accepted component manufacturers, along with part numbers and descriptions.


BGA – Ball Grid Array: A surface mount technology used to attach integrated circuits to a printed circuit board.

BOM – Bill of Materials: A list of all the parts, assemblies, raw materials, and components, along with the quantities, needed to build a product.

BS – Basic Specification: Documentation of the common elements for a group of products, materials, or services.

BTO – Build-To-Order Systems Assembly: A complete product built and tested to a specific customer order, using the required components, software, and documentation.


CAD – Computer Aided Design: Using a computer program to design a proposed product that can be reviewed as a printout or plot. For example: electronic products may provide a CAD in the form of a printed circuit layout.

CAE – Computer Aided Engineering: Using a computer for the data manipulation function during engineering processes.

CAF – Conductive Anodic Filament: An electrochemical process that transports conductive chemistries across nonmetallic substrate because of an applied electric field.

CAM – Computer Aided Manufacturing: Using a computer for the data manipulation function during the manufacturing processes.

CapDS – Capability Detail Specification: A detailed document providing the specific details the project required, which aa manufacturer uses to demonstrate the requirements were met.

CBGA/CCGA – Ceramic Ball Grid Array/Ceramic Column Grid Array: A grid array component using ceramic as the substrate of the package and either solder balls or solder columns as connections.

CDS – Customer Detail Specification: A specific and detailed document providing the requirements for a customer product, material, or service.

CEM – Contract Electronics Manufacturing: Also known as electronics manufacturing services (EMS), this refers to outsourcing the production of the electronic equipment while allowing the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to retain the design and brand name.

CFT – Customer Focus Team: A dedicated team of experts in each functional area of the manufacturing process, supply chain management, design, engineering, manufacturing, finance, and quality assurance. This team oversees the entire product life cycle, providing project management and communication.

CNC – Computer Numerical Control: A system where the primary numerical control technique is utilized by a computer and software.

Cp – Capability Performance Index: The ratio of the measured performance of a process compared to specified limits.

Cpk – Capability Performance Index: A measure of the relationship between the scaled distance between the process mean value and the closest specification limit.

CPLD – Complex programmable logic device.

COB – Chip On Board: An assembly technology for printed boards that interconnects unpackaged semiconductor dice by wire bonding or a similar attachment method.

CTB – Capability Test Board: A board designed to act as a capability-qualifying component (CQC). It can also be used by a manufacturer to evaluate process variations, process controls, or continuous improvement procedures.

CTE – Coefficient of Thermal Expansion: The linear dimensional change of a material per unit change in temperature.

CTO – Configure-to-Order Systems Assembly: Using specific customer requirements, configuring an already built or partially built product with specific peripherals and software.

CSP – Chip Scale Package: Active, multi-I/O package that is no larger than 125% of the size of the silicon IC.

CTP – Composite Test Pattern: Individual test patterns grouped to reflect the control and precision capabilities of a manufacturer or process.

CTS – Capability Test Segment: A part of a capability test board (CTB) with a set or group of individual test patterns (ITP) that will demonstrate a specific level of printed board or manufacturing capabilities.

CUSUM Chart – Cumulative Sum Control Chart: A diagram that depicts cumulative deviation from a target.


DFA – Design for Assembly: The practice of designing products that are easy to assemble.

DFM – Design for Manufacturability: The practice of designing a product so that it accelerates the manufacturing process and reduces manufacturing costs.

DFT – Design for Test: The technique of adding features to improve testability when designing a product.

DC – Direct Current: A current produced by a voltage source (power supplies, transformers, or batteries), that does not vary with time.

DFx – Design For X: Instituting “best practices” in the design to improve variable X, with variable X being a manufacturability, testability, mechanical assembly or other component or service.

DIM – Data Information Module: A specific function or task described by a group of records that contain related data.

DIP – Dual In-Line Package: A popular through hole package with leads in rows on opposite sides of the package.

DNC – Distributed Numerical Control: A network that links computer programs or computer-aided systems to numerically controlled machine tools.

DP – Delivered Panel: Intended to contain one or more printed boards in a specific arrangement or cluster, this production or prototype panel–or portion of either—is intended to facilitate economic assembly and testing in the next level of manufacturing.

DRAM – Dynamic RAM: Read-write memory that requires read or written into refreshes periodically in order to maintain the information in storage.

DS – Detailed Specification: A document that describes the exact requirements for a specific product, material, or service.

DSP – Digital Signal Processing:  The use of software to manipulate signal data.

DUT – Device Under Test: Component, PCB, or assembly subjected to a test. Also known as unit under test (UTT) and loaded board.


EDI – Electronic Data Interchange: The electronic transfer of data via a network.

EMI – Electromagnetic Interference: Unwelcome radiated electromagnetic energy that pairs into electrical conductors.

EOL – End of Life: Products or components that are being retired due to technology obsolescence or declining demand.

ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning: A software system designed to manage every aspect of a manufacturing or distribution enterprise using modules for each component– Financials, Sales, Purchasing, Inventory Management, Manufacturing, MRP, and DRP–which work seamlessly with a consistent user interface.

Other software packages such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) can be used to ensure one ERP meets all the business needs.

ERS – Equivalent Series Resistance: A loss parameter used to compare two capacitors of equal value to determine their relative effectiveness as filters.

ESD – Electrostatic Discharge: The release of static electricity that occurs when two objects touch.

ESS – Environmental Stress Screening: A process that applies extreme stresses to products to help test for defects and premature failure.


FA & T – Final Assembly and Test: The process comprising a subset or all of the manufacturing steps into a subassembly, and then into a finished product, testing, and preparing for shipping.

Also, commonly referred to as “final assembly and test (FA&T)” or “system assembly and test (SA&T)”.

FEA – Finite-Element Analysis: A computer-based analysis method that subdivides geometric entities into smaller elements so that they can then be analyzed concurrently.

FEM – Finite-Element Modeling: The use of a model to represent a problem that can be evaluated by finite-element analysis.

FP – Flat Pack: A low-profile IC package. It typically has gull wing type of leads on two or four sides.

FPT – Fine-Pitch Technology: A surface-mount assembly technology with component terminations on less than 0.625-mm (0.025-inch) centers.

FPT – Flying Probe Test:  An in-circuit test methodology that utilizes moving probes to make connection with the unit under test.


G10: A laminate comprising of woven epoxy-glass cloth infused with epoxy resin under pressure and heat. G10 lacks the anti-flammability properties of FR-4 and is used mainly for thin circuits.

GS – Generic Specification: A document that describes as many general requirements about a set, family or group of products, materials, or service as possible.


HASL – Hot Air Solder Leveling: Coating exposed copper by inserting a panel into molten solder, then using jets of hot air to finish.

HDI – High Density Interconnect: Ultra-fine geometry multi-layer PCB constructed with conductive microvia connections. These boards also usually include buried and/or blind vias and are made by sequential lamination.


IC – Integrated Circuit: A small, complete circuit made by vacuum deposition and other techniques, usually on a silicon chip, and mounted in a package.

ICT – In-Circuit Test: A way to identify manufacturing induced faults of printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) with a combination of hardware and software that individually tests and isolates devices using a bed-of-nails fixture.

ILB – Inner-Lead Bond: The connection between a conductor on a bonding tape and a bare die.

IMB – Intermetallic Bond: Thin layer of chemical bonding in metals.

IMC – Intermetallic Compound: Metallic compounds that form at the interfaces between different metals.

IPC – The Institute for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits: An international trade association for the printed board and electronics assembly industries.

IR – Infrared Reflow: Using infrared heating as the primary source of energy to re-melt solder.

ITP – Individual Test Patter: Determining an aspect of a manufacturer or manufacturing process capability through a single test pattern.

ITS – Individual Test Specimen: Determining an aspect of a manufacturer or manufacturing process capability through a single test specimen that contains an individual test pattern (ITP).

ITT – Inter-Test Time: The duration between two successive driver strobes.


JEDEC – Joint Electronic Devices Engineering Council: An arm of the Electronic Industries Association (EIA) that publishes specifications and standards for electronic components.

JIT – Just-In-Time: Production control techniques that minimize inventory by delivering parts and material to a manufacturing facility just before they are incorporated into a product.

J-Leads: Leads shaped like the letter “J” because the lead departs the package body near its Z axis centerline, is formed down then rolled under the package. This is the preferred surface mount lead form used on PLCCs.


KGA – Known Good Assembly: A printed board assembly that operates correctly and serves as a standard model for others.

KGB – Known Good Board: A PCB that operates correctly and serves for learning or debugging a test program in development or for comparison testing.


LCCC – Leadless Ceramic Chip Carrier: A hermetically sealed ceramic package that has pads around its sides for solder connection in a surface mounting application.

LMC – Least Material Condition: When a feature of size contains the least amount of material within the limits of that size.

LPI – Liquid Photo-Imageable Solder Mask: Using photographic imaging techniques to develop ink used to control deposition.

LSI – Large-Scale Integration: An integrated circuit with over 100 gates.


MCM – Multichip Module: Two or more silicon devices bonded directly to a substrate by wire bond, TAB, or flip chip to make a circuit.

MELF – Metal Electrode Face Bonding: A cylindrical leadless component with a round body and metals terminals on the ends.

MES – Manufacturing Execution System: Software that integrates with an enterprise system to provide for shop floor scheduling, production and labor reporting.

MLB – Multi-layer Board: An MLB is a board that has more than two layers of conductive material.

MMC – Maximum Material Condition: A drawing defining certain characteristics of the printed board.

MRP – Materials Requirement Planning: Using bill of material data, inventory data, and the production schedule, this technique calculates the required materials.

MTBF – Mean Time Between Failures: The mean average time (typically in hours) that is the actual, predicted, or calculated time between failures of an operating unit.


NC – Numerical Control: The mathematically defined, designed, or tested geometric quantities used in computer-aided technology.

NC Drill – Numeric Control Drill Machine: A machine used to drill the holes in a printed board at exact locations–specified by a data file.

NDA – Non-Disclosure Agreement. A legal contract defining which information should and should not be shared with potential partners.

NMR – Normal-Mode Rejection: The amount of noise superimposed on the input signal of a direct-current (DC) digital voltmeter that the instrument is capable of rejecting.

NPI – New Product Introduction: The process of bringing a product or service from inception to market.


OA – Organic Aqueous: Water soluble flux.

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer: The company that designed, manufactured, marketing, and provided customer support for a product.

OLB – Outer-Lead Bond: The connection between the base material and the conductor on a bonding tape.

OSP – Organic Solder Preservative: Organic coating applied to board surfaces in layers to prevent oxidation and to retain solderability.


PB – Printed Board: The general term for completely processed printed circuit and printed wiring configurations.

PBGA – Plastic Ball Grid Array: A ball grid array component whose package substrate is made of plastic, polyimidearramid, or similar resin-fiber combinations.

PCA – Printed Circuit Assembly: The generic term for a PCB after all electrical components have been attached.

PCB – Printed Circuit Board: Used to support and connect electronic components. PCBs are used in most modern-day electronics.

PCBA – Printed Circuit Board Assembly: These are like PCBs, except they have components soldered on.

PCMCIA – Personal Computer Memory Card International Association: The organization that has developed the early standards for the various sizes of modules which were initially for memory expansion but are now used for many different electronic functions.

PLCC – Plastic Leaded Chip Carrier: A plastic IC package for surface mounting applications that has leads–generally “J” leads–on all four sides.

PP – Production Panel: An arrangement of printed boards in a specific cluster to facilitate economic fabrication techniques using controlled and documented chemical, mechanical and electrical processes.

PPB – Production Panel Board: A printed board fabricated in an environment that consists of controlled and documented chemical, mechanical and electrical processes used in combination to produce the features and characteristics of the final printed board product.

PQFP – Plastic Quad Flat Pack: An FP with leads on four sides generally refers to a plastic quad flat package that is built to JEDEC standards.

PTH – Pin-Through-Hole or Plated-Through-Hole: Soldering component leads (or pins) inserted in plated through-hole to obtain an electrical connection between components and substrate.

PWA – Printed Wiring Assembly: Commonly used to describe a PWB after all of its electrical components are attached.

PWB – Printed Wiring Board: A printed wiring board on which components are mounted and wired together. Also known as a PCB.


QFP – Quad Flat Pack: A FP with leads on four sides. Usually a plastic quad flat package that is built to JEDEC standards.

QPL – Qualified Products List: An electronic list identifying which materials and suppliers have passed the necessary testing and qualifications.

QSOP – Quarter-Size Small Outline Package: A SO style IC package that has leads on a 25-mil pitch.


RAM – Random Access Memory: A type of memory that offers access to storage locations.

RMF – Risk Management Factor: The maximum tolerable percentage of possible defects within a lot of units, based on approximately 95% confidence level.

ROHS – Restriction of hazardous substances directive.

ROM – Read Only Memory: A random-access storage where the data pattern is constant after manufacture.


SA & T – Systems Assembly and Test: The process comprising a subset or all the manufacturing steps into a finished product, testing, and preparing for shipping. Also, commonly referred to as “final assembly and test (FA&T).”

SIG – Sigma: The Greek letter that is used to designate a standard deviation of a population.

SIP – Single-Inline Package: A component package with one straight row of pins or wire leads.

SIR – Surface Insulation Resistance: Specified environmental and electrical conditions that determine the electrical resistance of an insulating material between a pair of contacts, conductors or grounding devices.

SMA – Surface Mount Assembly: Using surface mount technology with surface mounted components to manufacture an electronics assembly or module.

SMC – Surface Mount Component: A leaded or leadless part that has the potential to become attached to a printed board by surface mounting.

SMOBC – Solder Mask Over Bare Copper: Fabricating a printed circuit board that results in copper with no protective metal in final metallization. The component terminal areas are exposed as the non-coated areas are coated by solder resist to eliminate tin lead under the mask.

SMT – Surface Mount Technology: The technology using components that are soldered directly to the surface of the substrate or PWB in electronic assemblies.

SO – Small Outline: A package resembling a flat pack with leads on only two sides. Generally refers to a package that is approximately 150 mils wide.

SOIC – Small Outline Integrated Circuit: A plastic IC package that has leads on two opposites sides used for surface mounting applications.

SOL/SOW – Small Outline-Large/Small Outline Wide: Refers to packages that are approximately 300 mils wide.

SOT – Small Outline Transistor: A plastic leaded package for diodes and transistors used in surface mounting applications.

SPC – Statistical Process Control: Analyzation of a process or the output using statistical techniques to determine any variation from a benchmark .

SQC – Statistical Quality Control: Documenting and assuring end-product compliance with requirements using statistical techniques.

SS – Sectional Specification: The specific requirements pertaining to a portion of a set, family, or group of products, materials or, services.

SSOIC – Shrink Small Outline IC: A SO-style IC package that has leads on a 25-mil pitch.


TAB – Tape Automated Bonding: An IC interconnection method that uses organic tape to support pre-formed leads during bonding to the chip and connection to the substrate.

TBGA – Tape Ball Grid Array: A ball grid array component package using TAB techniques to make the connections between the IC chip and the solder balls. This leaves compliant connections between the IC and the solder balls for better TCE reliability.

TCE – Thermal Coefficient of Expansion: The rate of expansion (ppm/C) of a material when its temperature is increased.

TG – Glass Transition Temperature: The degree (in Celsius) at which rising temperatures cause resin inside the solid base laminate to start to exhibit soft, plastic-like symptoms.


UBGA – Micro BGA: Micro BGA .8mm ball spacing or less.

UL – Underwriter’s Laboratories, Inc.: A corporation supported by some underwriters for establishing safety standards on types of equipment or components. Their logo shows applicable UL certification.


VFP – Very Fine Pitch: Surface mount packages where the center-to-center lead distances are between 0.012 inch and 0.020 inches.

VLSI – Very Large Scale Integration: Integrated circuits with more than 80,000 transistors on a single die that are interconnected with conductors that are 1 micron or less in width.

VSOIC – Very Small Outline IC: A SO style IC package that has leads with a pitch of 30 mils or less.


WIP – Work-In-Process: Inventory that is currently being processed, or inventory that has been processed through one operation and is awaiting another. WIP is an inventory account that represents the value of materials, labor, and overhead that has been issued to manufacturing but has not yet produced a stock-able item.


X-Axis: The horizontal or left-to-right direction in a two-dimensional system of coordinates. This axis is perpendicular to the Y-axis.


Y-Axis: The vertical or bottom-to-top direction in a two-dimensional system of coordinates.


Z-Axis: The Axis perpendicular to the plane formed by the X and Y datum reference. This axis usually represents the thickness of the boards.

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