Learn How to Inspect Your Electronic PCB Components
When counterfeit electronics are a concern, you should source electronic pcb components yourself. This gives you the opportunity to inspect parts if necessary. Identifying counterfeit electronics can be difficult, but there are several approaches you can try.
In order of cost and complexity:
1.Visual: Look for resurfacing, sanding, or refinishing where labels were removed and repainted. Sometimes an acetone swab will remove fake labeling completely.
2.Microscopic: Check the surface of packaging and solder points for smoothness and consistency between different parts.
3.Electrical testing: Power a device up, and make sure the I-V characteristics match the manufacturer data sheet. Usually, you will need custom test fixtures for surface mount components. This is tedious on large batches but is a dead giveaway for parts that are remarked.
4.X-ray: Again, you will be comparing seemingly identical components. Fakes usually have different wire bonding and internal variations. You can also remove the packaging from components to inspect their structure without an X-ray, but this is a very destructive option.
5.X-ray spectroscopy: If you really need this level of inspection, check out local university materials science programs. Some will partner with your industry or test your components for you. I advise you to look for lead, as counterfeit parts rarely live up to RoHS compliance. This doesn’t help for military grade parts that require lead solder.
6.Advanced microscopy and marking: DARPA and other groups have spent a lot of money on anti-counterfeit solutions. These include obscure DNA-based dyes, scanning acoustic microscopy and other techniques that identify counterfeit parts without destroying real ones. You’ll need some serious expertise on-hand to run these anti-counterfeit measures.
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