Spotting Counterfeits — Blacktop Marking Tests Get More Sophisticated (Part 1)

The blacktop markings on counterfeit electronic components are getting much harder to spot. To insure that you don’t have counterfeit components, more sophisticated tests that adhere to military specifications are needed.

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When counterfeit electronic components first began surfacing it was often easy to spot them. The markings on the chip would be blatantly wrong such as the wrong logo for the company who supposedly made the product or a marking which would simply rub off. As the counterfeiters have gained sophistication, their electronic components are harder to spot. Even checking the markings on the chip (Blacktop Markings) now requires rigorous testing procedures.

Counterfeit parts have become a significant concern in the electronic component industry. Sometimes these counterfeits are clones – attempts to copy the genuine parts. In other cases, the counterfeiters will re-mark a part. The counterfeiter will take an electronic component created for a specific purpose and change the markings on part so it will appear to be another part.

Why does this matter? Electronic components are built to exact standards to perform highly specific jobs. These components then undergo rigorous testing to ensure they will perform as expect under all circumstances. You would not build an airplane with untested screws that almost fit. It is potentially more dangerous to use electronic components which are almost right.

The military has developed detailed specifications for how to test electronic components. These specifications have become the industry standard, used to test both military and non-military parts. NJMET and other reputable electronic component testing firms adhere to those published specifications. Still, there are variations and proprietary approaches of how to implement those specs and maintain quality control during testing.

My next post will detail some of the specifics involved in Blacktop Marking testing.

Author: josephfedericonj

Joseph Federico is Vice President and Director of Operations for NJ MET, Inc., located in Clifton, NJ. He speaks world-wide on current issues in Electronic Component Testing. Among his responsibilities at NJMET, Inc. is heading up its charity programs.

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