Monday, 22 July 2013

Implementing faulty/counterfeit ICs in the supply chain can be dangerous. What are the options to avoid this?

It is well known that it can be difficult to find a genuine and reliable supply of electronic components particularly when they are scarce or out of production by the original manufacturer. Although refurbished components are sometimes frowned upon for being 'unsafe' and therefore are not a part of the PCB repair process, sometimes this can be the only solution to get around components which are scarce or hard to source.
Especially for a component supplier or broker, the biggest risk is loss of credibility; should a faulty, substandard or counterfeit IC be sold to one of the customers, and hence to avoid or substantially reduce the risk of this to occur; component test is advised. But what are the different tests that can be performed? Listed below are a few of the important tests that are done on a sample or even the whole batch at times to determine authenticity:

Visual Inspection : This is a very effective component testing method, by using optical inspection it can be determined if the components are in good condition, whether there are any damages or any minute defects.

XRF Analysis : This is a non-destructive method to determine what alloy the termination consists of. This is particularly useful for businesses belonging to the high reliability industries such as defence, medical, aerospace, Oil & Gas sectors.

Solderability Test : This test verifies whether the component is re-solderable and also if it is good enough to be placed back on a PCB with reflow.

Electrical Test: Also known as BEST (BGA & Electrical Silicon Test) used to check the electrical parameters of every pin to pin e.g. current, voltage, diode resistivity, and silicon connectivity. 

Key Function Test : Some devices may need tested by creating a circuit to ensure that they are operating as expected. With the help of the component datasheet, a circuit can be created and the key aspects of the IC can be checked. For example MOSFETs can be tested to confirm that they still meet the manufacturer's specifications.

Flash Memory Test / Memory Programming : Components can be programmed to check for counterfeit programmable components. Device ID codes can confirm if the devices were blank or programmed. Already programmed FLASH parts can be erased back to factory default settings.

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Know more about our IC Tests (Click here)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

High Reliability industries are vulnerable to counterfeit ICs

High reliability industries such as the Defence, Medical, Aerospace, Oil & Gas sectors rely on electronic parts that are no longer produced by the original manufacturers or even sold by their authorised distributors. That reliance is based, in part, on the long life cycles of these systems. An electronic part may be manufactured for two years, but many defence, medical and aerospace systems which use these parts may be in service for more than two decades. Older components often need to be properly tested and would require retinning to avoid solderability issues like tin whisker.

These high reliability industries are critically dependent on a technology that obsoletes itself every few years or even faster in some cases, is made in locations which are not secure and over which they have no market share influence. 

To source scarce parts, purchasers in these high reliability industries often buy from independent distributors or brokers. This introduces high risk of faulty or counterfeit components being acquired.

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Know more about our Automated Retinning (Click here)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Retronix Develop Unique Re-tinning Tool for Aerospace Customer

An Aerospace company had a large amount of LGAs with a gold pad finish that they wanted to convert to a lead finish. They wanted the re-tinning to comply with the GEIA standard, the issue was that the components were very small and any standard tooling would not have been able to perform the service on the components.

Retronix developed a very cost effective piece of tooling that held the row of the components and allowed them to be processed automatically without causing any issues.

Automated Retinning  IC

The components were then XRF tested to verify compliance and shipped to the customer within 5 days.

Automated Retinning and Alloy conversion

Monday, 1 July 2013

Retronix 'IC Rescue' process helps maximise returns for a service repair company.

A service company that specialised in field repairs of telecommunication systems had a large quantity of spare PCBs, all brand new, that they bought in order to carry out repairs on systems. The product turned out to be far more reliable than estimated, and the product did not sell in the volumes expected.

BGA Recovery, QFP Recovery

The end result was that the service company ended up with a large quantity of brand new PCBs they had no use for, and there was no obvious external market.

Using Retronix’s “IC Rescue” process, the PCBs were stripped of valuable ICs, which were then offered to the market as 100% genuine, zero hours use ICs which were safely recovered from brand new PCBs.

These were either utilised on other PCBs which used the same chips, or sold on the general market to other companies, who knew they were recovered but also knew it was done with zero reflows and were from brand a new certified product.

This allowed the service company to maximise their return  on this product which otherwise would have returned no value, other than precious metal recovery.

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