In our previous article (part 1), we discussed how choosing reliable sources and inspecting product packaging can help your organization avoid purchasing lower quality, counterfeit PCB Assembly parts.
As promised, below we have provided three additional ways you can ensure high quality parts that will help maintain your organization’s reputation.
Side by side, a counterfeit component may have visible features which vary from an authentic part. Ensure size and color are consistent between previous purchases from authorized distributors and the new shipment. Notches should be uniform in size and color. Counterfeiters often produce pieces which are shinier than the OCM’s parts in order to achieve a more high-end appearance. If the original serial number is sanded off, this can render the piece to be of uneven or lesser thickness. Ensure serial numbers are consistent between the new shipment and those from the OCM (Original Component Manufacturer). The typeface or font should also match both with the OCM part and between individual components within the new order.
Inspect Parts Thoroughly
If a part must be evaluated without an OCM piece for comparison, several techniques may reveal a counterfeit. Original serial numbers may be sanded off or made invisible through a process called “blacktopping.” Blacktopping is effectively applying a matching “paint” on top of a piece (often a board) in order to cover the original serial number. An acetone-covered swab can reveal blacktopping. When the swab is rubbed against the part, it will retain some of the “blacktop” if any is present. Components may also be X-rayed in order to affirm compliance with expected chemical specs. Lead content is often overlooked by counterfeiters.
Hire a Professional
Businesses are more profitable when costs are reduced. Parts are often ordered from independent distributors or brokers because they are purchased at a lower price. Counterfeits, however, drive up the total cost on account of premature failure and indirect damages. In the U.S. alone, counterfeit parts result in the loss of billions of dollars annually. For larger companies, establishing a quality inspection team may actually lower overall expenses by minimizing the risk of premature product failure or other defects. Smaller businesses may benefit from a small team or an individual performing randomized tests. Contracting with an independent inspector may also reduce overall costs; many such contractors offer some degree of guarantee or insurance.
Obtaining inexpensive parts for your PCB Assembly lowers production costs. Purchasing a lower-priced product often comes with the risk of receiving a counterfeit. Such parts often increase costs. In order to maintain a high reputation and low overall costs, manufacturers should ensure PCB parts are authentic. Parts are most likely to be authentic when they come from a reliable, reputable source. Authenticity can be gauged through inspecting product packaging, the appearance of the part, and its chemical composition. A specialized individual or team of inspectors may increase the likelihood that each part is authentic. Providing PCB boards which are high-quality and highly reliable is crucial for PCB manufacturers and their clients.
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