Centennial College’s Engineering Program

As VP and Director of Operations at NJMET, I have seen a lot of recent engineering technology graduates come through as candidates to work at our New Jersey laboratory. My concern about many engineering technology programs is that they do not provide enough hands-on laboratory experience.

I am happy to see that Centennial College’s relatively new engineering program is an exception to this practice. From speaking to their students and viewing their website, I see that they have put a proper emphasis on giving their students practical experience.

Check out their program at: http://www.centennialcollege.ca

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Vibration Analysis as a Counterfeit Dectection Tool

“Vibration analysis is performed to identify defects or drifts in electronic equipment across various stages of its life. Vibration test systems are first employed to detect latent defects and faults in electrical, electromechanical, electronic and mechanical hardware at the manufacturing stage,” according to Importance of Vibration Testing for Electronic Equipment by Sam Jacob Thomas.

NJMET uses vibration analysis as part of our PIND (Particle Impact Noise Detection) testing to determine the authenticity of electronic components. We have recently discovered dangerous counterfeit components in two separate customer orders using PIND testing. For more information, see: Particle Impact Noise Detection Finds Non-Authentic Electronic Components.
PIND is just one process in NJMET’s Mission Imposter® Counterfeit Component Testing Program. Mission Imposter is a rigorous set of tests to determine the authenticity of electronic components.

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

Spotting Counterfeits — Blacktop Marking Tests Get More Sophisticated (Part 2)

Marking Permanency (Resistance to Solvents) Test:
The purpose of a Marking Permanency test is to verify that the component parts, when subjected to solvents, will maintain their correct markings. Counterfeit parts often have new markings which are not permanent; they will dissolve when the solvents are properly applied. Also, the solvents will reveal evidence of previous markings which have been sanded off or otherwise replaced by the false markings.

Various Military Standard procedures are used which incorporate processes of working with several chemicals mixed appropriately and in detail is in accordance with the specifications. These chemicals consist of Aliphatic alcohol, mineral spirits, ethyl-benzene, organic solvents, de-ionized water, propylene glycol monomethyl either, or monoethanloamine.

Once properly 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 which are missing in whole or in part, faded, smeared, blurred, or shifted (dislodged) to the extent that they cannot be readily identified from a distance of at least 15.0cm (6 inches) with normal room lighting and without the aid of magnification or with a viewer having a magnification no greater than 3X. In some cases, a strategic acetone wash will be used to reveal sanding marks and facets of previous markings.

Blacktop marking is just one test in a multistep process used to discover counterfeit electronic components. Other tests include closely checking the physical dimensions and the packaging as well as the performance of the chips. Counterfeit electronic components are on the rise in both military and civilian products. As the counterfeiting gets more sophisticated, testing houses continue to develop finely tuned procedures to separate the fake goods from the real parts.

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.

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.

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.

Incoming Inspection

The inspection process starts with checking the boxes for shipping damage or evidence of a counterfeit or suspect barcode label and moves on to the component level after the packages are opened. An in-depth, near 100-point inspection process via a detailed checklist of suspect error types and optical microscopy (digital imaging) is performed to verify the component part number, marking, lead straightness, color, or any anomaly related to the integrity of the devices such as cracks, dents, scratches, mechanical anomalies, spelling errors, suspect date codes, suspect manufacturers’ logos, breaks, or corrosions.