The reliability of the parts used is a major issue in electronics production. Manufacturers have long struggled with the presence of counterfeit electrical components, and this problem continues today as the counterfeiting sector develops novel techniques to disguise the origin of their products.
Most fake parts are made in one of two different ways:
- Old parts are refurbished & resold as brand new.
- In order to generate a profit, used parts are packaged and sold as new ones.
This is obviously a major problem for any manufacturer. These parts often work excellently as stand-ins for the ones you bought and pass preliminary quality assurance tests. However, they can eventually result in major breakdowns. It’s easy to see how the failure of a fire alarm or the communication devices in a mine may have disastrous consequences for the lives of those underground.
Despite this, an expert can spot a fake electronic component a mile away. Therefore, it is essential to train your staff on what they should look for during part inspections, and to double-check all components regardless of their source.
Keeping this in mind, let’s analyze some of the signs of counterfeit parts:
How can you Identify Counterfeit Electronic Components –
- Wrong Information
The label on the part box is often inaccurately replicated by Chinese counterfeit manufacturers, making it easy to detect fake parts. Mistakes in the typeface, spelling, number, logo, or country of origin can all be telltale signs of a counterfeit product.
- X-Ray Inspections
X-ray inspection can be used to verify the authenticity of components. This method is similar to normal X-rays in that it reveals the component’s inner workings, as the name suggests. Indicators like these can be found by this method:
- Inconsistent or missing die sizes
- Clearly apparent delamination
- Wire bonds which are either broken or missing
- Counterfeiters often ignore the fact that an X-ray report can confirm a part’s lead-free certification if it has been RoHS-approved.
Laser etching can be detected behind blacktopping by using a scanning acoustic microscope (SAM). Finding etching indicates that the surface was resurfaced to hide prior markings. Utilizing SAM to detect blacktopping is nondestructive, unlike the acetone procedure, therefore the component can be reused if it passes inspection.
Most modern electronic components are made of a plastic and fine glass mixture, and counterfeiters have become quite skilled at recreating this configuration.
The method used to conduct this “resurfacing” is known as blacktopping. In order to make it look like nothing ever happened, you have to sand out the old markings & apply a coating of polymer. The illegitimacy of this effect, however, may not always be concealed. The polymer may only partially fill in an indentation on a blacktopped chip, revealing the original smoothness of the indentation, or it may completely fill in the indentation.
- Physical Deformities
The counterfeit components are often resurrected from decommissioned gadgets and passed off as brand new. Some signs of physical wear and tear, such as scratch marks or bent leads, may be present in this case. These red flags should alert you to the fact that your components could not be totally legit.
- Disastrous Testing
There are instances where a more invasive method is needed to verify the legitimacy of a component. Because the components are damaged in these procedures, they are referred to as “destructive.”