How to Detect Counterfeit Parts in the Electronics Supply Chain

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Counterfeit Electronics Parts

As anyone in the electronics industry knows, it’s critical to mitigate the risk of purchasing and using counterfeit parts and components. There are many different ways to identify and avoid using counterfeit parts in the electronics manufacturing field, including both visual tests and x-ray inspections.

It’s best to use more than one test method for a thorough inspection. While one test can do its part to reduce your risk, multiple tests can reduce your risk even further. No single test or inspection is guaranteed; however, steps can be taken to reduce your risk as much as possible.

Visual Tests

When visually inspecting a part for legitimacy, use a reliable microscope for a detailed view. You’ll want to look for inconsistencies across the lot, such as incomplete or improper logos, incorrect manufacturing plant codes, any additional or extra markings, dull component leads, material variants, and even packaging discrepancies. Even these simple steps can work to ensure your components are legitimate.

X-Ray Inspections

Another way to test for counterfeit parts is through x-ray inspections or radiological inspection. It’s a powerful and effective way to detect false components hidden within other components and to find issues that may not be seen through a visual test alone. It allows you to compare components and identify defects in a non-destructive way and confirm lead frame integrity, while also checking for lot conformity across parts.

When using x-ray inspection, you’ll need the proper resolution, field of view and automation features. As opposed to using x-ray inspection for failure analysis, you’ll need your x-ray system to have a detailed resolution in order to see the minute details both inside and outside of a particular component. Your system should also have a large enough field of view to be able to see an entire component all at once, so that you can compare the images of components easily and effectively.

An automated x-ray inspection system is critical for this process. Rather than inspecting each and every component in a lot, an automated machine will be able to compare images quickly to detect any issues. If you work with an electronics manufacturing services provider, be sure to ask if they have automated inspection systems equipped for such tasks.

Additional Mitigation Tactics

One way to reduce the risk of purchasing counterfeit parts and components is to avoid purchasing parts from brokers and to only buy parts directly from a particular manufacturer or an authorized reseller. In addition, working with a reputable electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider, such as ACDi, can significantly reduce your risk.

For more information about counterfeit part risk mitigation and electronics manufacturing, reach out to ACDi at 301-969-4536, or visit us online.

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