How Much of that part number is important?
Part numbers are incredibly important, but can also be incredibly annoying and confusing. Obviously, we all need them, but it would be nice if there were some semblance of a standard. Well, there are some standards, like capacitor grades and IC packages, but even those aren't always standard.
In to the mix, go manufacturer part number, distributor part number, and many OEMs have their own part numbering scheme. Here's an example of some extremes:
Part number: 103
Part number: GRM155R61C104KA88D
The first example is battery holder for a coin cell, and the second is a surface mount capacitor. Granted, there are a lot more options in the capacitor world, but that much of a difference is just goofy.
With the coin cell holder, it should be clear that all THREE digits are important. This particular part is a plastic and metal thru-hole battery holder for a 20 mm cell, from Keystone. I think they just number their parts in sequence, occasionally hanging on an alpha suffix.
The second example, a capacitor, is a bit different. The specific characteristics of the part are encoded in the part number. Here's part of a page from the Murata datasheet for this component.
In the case of our part number, GRM155R61C104KA88D:
GR, followed by M = General purpose products
15 gives the dimensions = 1.0x0.5 mm, which is an 0402 size part
5, following the 15, is the height = 0.5mm
R6 represents the temperature characteristics = X5R (X5R is an EIA temperature standard code)
1C covers the DC voltage, 16 volts, in this case
104 is the capacitance in pico farads = 100000pf (1 and 0 are the value, 4 is the number of zeros)
K is tolerance = 10%
A88 represents an "individual specification code" The datasheet doesn't give any more information on what that would be except that, if it starts with E, it would represent the part's ESR.
D finally, the last character, D covers the packaging. D = 180mm paper tape.
So, in this case too, every character matters.
One thing the manufacturers part number doesn't cover, but the distributor (DigiKey, in this example) often does cover is whether this would come in a full-reel, partial reel, or cut strip. The DigiKey part number for this capacitor is:
490-5415-1-ND, for cut-tape
490-5415-2-ND, for a full reel
490-5415-6-ND, for a Digi-reel
I don't know what happened to -3, -4, and -5.
In cases, like ICs, the manufacturer part number will specify trays, tubes, or tape and reel. For example, the 28 pin QFN version of the PIC18F2221 microcontroller.
PIC18F2221-I/ML comes in a tube
PIC18F2221T-I/ML comes in tape and reel
In the case of the capacitor and microcontroller, we could probably figure out the exact part without the manufacturer. That many digits is likely to be unique. In the case of the Keystone battery clip, we most likely couldn't figure out without the name Keystone attached to it. But, even in the case of the capacitor and microcontroller, the manufacturer name is an important safety check, and will speed things up.
What's the part number for the Turboencabulator?