Protect Yourself When Buying Obsolete Electronic Components

Tips to Identify and Avoid Counterfeit Components

You can’t be too careful when you are buying obsolete electronic components. Counterfeit electronic components are a pervasive issue,particularly when dealing with obsolete parts.  John Pallazola offers four “Golden Rules” to follow when buying obsolete parts:

  1. Verify the trustworthiness of the supplier
  2. Ensure the traceability of the paperwork, including COC and invoices
  3. Test the parts to confirm that they operate properly
  4. Confirm details such as quantity and date codes from the supplier

I strongly recommend comprehensive testing of the parts following AS5553’s counterfeit parts avoidance training compliance, IDEA’s method 1010 inspection and AS 6081 Fraudulent Electronics Parts Avoidance, Detection and Mitigation test practices.

For more information about counterfeit testing for obsolete parts and to learn how NJMET can help you, email jgfederico@njmet.com.

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Article on Solvent Testing Published in October’s US Tech

I recently wrote an article for US Tech (published in the Oct, 2014 issue) describing the proper procedures for solvent testing for remarked and resurfaced electronic components and the occurrence of false positive results when a solvent test is applied to the wrong type of electronic component.  Examples of false positive results are shown where the Dynasolve and Mineral Spirits tests return false positive results when used on authentic can packaged devices.

While Mineral Spirits testing, Acetone testing, 1- Methyl 2- Pyrrolidone testing and Dynasolve testing have been vital in uncovering many anomalies associated with parts that have been remarked or resurfaced, we show that using these techniques improperly on hermetically sealed ceramic devices or can packages that have not been resurfaced can result in false positives.

NJ MET has developed a lot of expertise in correctly applying the appropriate solvent testing procedures, depending on the type of electronic component being tested.  We apply that expertise in all parts of our component testing programs.  Thorough testing with the appropriate procedures is necessary to identify counterfeit components and keep them out of the supply chain.

I invite you to join the conversation by commenting below your thoughts and experiences with these testing procedures.

Recycled Electronic Components

Keeping One Step Ahead of Counterfeit Electronic Components is a good short article on the need for counterfeit component testing.  Among other things, it talks about the need for extra vigilance when purchasing recycled components. 

Often the purchaser does not even know that they are buying recycled parts. Old parts, near the end of their lifecycle are harvested using harsh and inexact techniques. The parts are then cleaned, re-branded and sold as new.

S. 1228: The Combating Military Counterfeits Act of 2011

When they return from August recess, one of the things Congress needs to take up is the S. 1228: Combating Military Counterfeits Act of 2011. This bill is an important step towards protecting the United States from counterfeit electronic components.

These fake components cost jobs and put Americans at risk. The danger is especially high in our military.

One category of counterfeit parts are civilian grade electronic components relabeled as military grade.  Military grade parts have to meet strict standards to work in extreme conditions, such as very hot or extremely cold environments. These situations may be rare in civilian life, but are common for our military.  A civilian grade electronic component may work well on the ground, but fail dangerously in a jet during combat.

For more information about the bill and its status, check out http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-1228

Job Opening at NJMET — Laboratory Analyst / Assistant / Laboratory Technician

NJMET has an opening in our Component Analysis Group for a Laboratory Analyst / Assistant / Laboratory Technician.  We are looking for someone with a solid electronics and chemistry background with a minimum 3 to 5 years relevant work experience / college degree and equivalent experience. (Electronics / Chemical Engineering or BS Chemistry)

  • Must be computer literate (current software)
  • Solid background in Electronics, Chemistry or Chemical Engineering
  • Must be fluent in English and possess good writing skills
  • Must possess an analytical mind
  • Must have outstanding laboratory report generation skills
  • Must have outstanding customer service skills.

Send resume and cover letter to Joseph Federico via:

  • Email: careers@njmet.com
  • fax: 973-546-1836
  • mail: NJMET, 1240 Main Ave. Clifton, NJ 07011

Testing Of Electronic Microcircuits

The following is another excerpt from my forthcoming book. The working title is “MISSION IMPOSTER: The Remedy to Detect Counterfeit Electronic Components.”

In recent years many non authentic electronic microcircuits or clones were discovered to work electronically. The question to the electronics industry became just how long will these devices work?

 Joseph Federico Vice President of NJMET, NJ illustrates the following synopsis of proper electrical testing protocols that should be exercised in testing a component for its functional and parametric performance.    

 The test objectives are to exercise the DC and AC Functional and Parametric requirements as indicated on the industry specifications. In cases of military, aerospace and space design, the respective subgroups contained in those documents would suffice for the objective tests. (See Group A Testing in an earlier post.)

 Electrical Testing Illustration

Industry Temperatures Test Objectives
Commercial 0°C – 70°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Industrial -40°C – +85°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Automotive -45°C – +110°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Military / Aerospace -55°C – +125°C Subgroups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B. 9, 10, 11
Space -65°C – +150°C Subgroups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B. 9, 10, 11

 “As an example, for a DM74LS244 octal 3-state buffer/line driver/line receiver, a kelvin/continuity test is performed first to check pin contact. Following this initial check, supply current, then several input current tests as well as off state output current, short circuit output current and output voltage tests are performed to analyze the DC characteristics”, said Joseph Federico.

Once completed, various propogation times are measured along with performing the device’s functional test in order to analyse the A.C. characteristics.

 “After testing electronic components for over thirty years I strongly feel that by exercising the proper testing methodologies above, the industry would have a more confident feeling on the distribution and performance of these products” said Federico.

 For more information on Electrical Testing of Electronic Microcircuits, please call Joseph Federico at NJMET, NJ at (973) 546-5393. Please visit NJMET at www.njmetmtl.com

Group A Electrical Testing

Group A testing is industry terminology for testing the component device’s full functional and parametric require-ments at the recommended manufacturer’s or specific industry extreme operating temperatures as presented in this table.

Industry Temperatures Test Objectives
Commercial 0°C – 70°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Industrial -40°C – +85°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Automotive -45°C – +110°C DC, AC Functional and Parametric Testing
Military / Aerospace -55°C – +125°C Subgroups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B. 9, 10, 11
Space -65°C – +150°C Subgroups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8A, 8B. 9, 10, 11

The test objectives are to exercise the DC and AC functional and parametric requirements as indicated on the in-dustry specifications. In cases of military, aerospace, and space design, the respective subgroups contained in those documents would suffice for the objective tests.

Radiographic Inspection and Internal Visual Verification

Radiographic Inspection
After checking the Physical Dimensions, Real-time X-ray and shadowgraph X-rays are performed to observe evidence of counterfeiting by analyzing the die size and wire bonding and to uncover any possible delaminations.
Internal Visual Verification
Component samples are delidded, and an internal inspection is made. The die is checked for defects, and the manufacturer’s logo on the die must match that on the lid of the component. The die topography also is analyzed to see if it meets the outline of the manufacturer’s requirements.
The component is placed under a high-powered microscope and verified against the manufacturer’s specifications. Photographs of this process are taken each step of the way. In the event of insufficient verification data, engineer-ing consultation will refer to other methodologies in the process to uncover counterfeit or cloned devices.

Physical Dimensions and Marking Permanency

Over the past few years, NJMET’s testing has encountered new techniques of blacktop marking that could easily pass the MIL Handbook resistance to solvents criteria. We have researched methods to test for these new techniques as well.

Physical Dimensions
The height, length, width, and depth as well as arc angle, curvature measure, and pin-count of the devices are checked. This ensures all data meets the manufacturer’s specification and that there is no evidence that the components have been altered.
Marking Permanency
The purpose of this test is to verify that the markings will not become illegible on the component parts when subjected to solvents. (See picture.) Various military standard procedures are used that incorporate several chemicals mixed appropriately and in detail in accordance with the specifications. These chemicals consist of aliphatic alcohol, mineral spirits, ethyl-benzene, organic solvents, deionized water, propylene glycol monomethyl ether, or monoethanolamine.

Once the chemicals are mixed, the components are submerged in a three-phase process and analyzed in accordance with MIL-HBK-130 to uncover evidence of damage to the device and any specified markings. The analysis includes missing markings in whole or in part or those that appear, faded, smeared, blurred, or shifted to the extent that they cannot be readily identified from a distance of at least 6 inches with normal room lighting and without the aid of magnification.

NJMET: Mission Imposter electronic component with suspect markings
NJMET's Mission Imposter testing finds components with suspect markings.

In some cases, a strategic acetone wash is used to reveal sanding marks and facets of previous markings. Over the past few years, new techniques of blacktop marking have been discovered that could easily pass the MIL Handbook resistance to solvents criteria.  We have researched methods to test for these new techniques as well.