The Power of Counterfeit Component Detection, Prevention, and Mitigation Training

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The Problem: There is no arguing the fact that counterfeit components concerns have become larger throughout the supply chain. As reported recently by reliable analytic firms like IHS, more than 12 million parts have been involved in global counterfeit incidents in just the past five years, equating to more than one counterfeit part every 15 seconds during that period. A total of 57% of counterfeit-part reports from 2001 through 2014 have involved obsolete or end-of-life (EOL) components, and another 37% were active parts. The purchasing of electronic components has become much more complex than 25 years ago. No longer can you rely on a Certificate of Compliance as a mainstay. Today’s market requires a battery of inspections and tests to assure what you are buying is authentic, with zero tolerance counterfeit component policies in place by most end users, ignoring the problem is no longer an option. IHS Parts Management has reported the following five ranking component types represented by the percentage of incidents. The sum total of the application markets where these five most reported commodity groups representing $169 billion worth of semiconductor revenue.

High-Level Solution

A high-level solution involves DNA Markings, where plant DNA is scrambled to create new and unique genetic sequences, and these sequences of DNA are integrated with inks. These inks are then applied on the packages of the IC at the end of the packaging process. Once the ICs are received, then, authentication includes first checking whether the ink fluoresces under specific light, and second, sending a sample of the ink to a lab to verify that the DNA is in the database of valid sequences. Recently, the DOD mandated that DNA marking be placed on the components in order to track them throughout the supply chain. Currently detailed DNA validation is extremely time-consuming and costly.

Current Solution

When purchasing real Estate the rule is,“location, location, location.” For counterfeit component detection and prevention, it’s “training, training, training.” Please note: Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81) requires DoD to adopt comprehensive guidance and processes for the detection and avoidance of such parts; training is highly recommended to mitigate the risk of contaminating your supply chain and enables inspection techniques.

Solution Details

ProSkill CTG’s counterfeit component detection and prevention training courses will familiarize you with a component’s visual inspection points required to recognize and prevent counterfeit components from entering your supply chain. Courses PRO-STD-001 and PRO-CSID-001 are in cohesion with the DoE (Department of Energy) counterfeit component definition, and the DoD approved and adopted standards: SAE AS5553A, a contractors standard, and SAE AS6081, a component Supplier’s standard. Along with our prime visual inspection training we involve the following processes to prevent a financial loss to your company and more so to prevent the serious fines imposed including up to possible closure of a company for failing to adhere to the current public law.  

  • Chemical testing/resistance to solvents is commonly used to determined authentic part marking, a mixture of mineral spirits and isopropyl alcohol is used for an accurate determination. The part marking resistance and pure acetone is used to remove any resurface material commonly known as blacktopping. This test is not performed on all parts. In some cases, resurfacing material would not be used by counterfeiters to re-mark a part; in others, the solvents would remove markings even on legitimate parts.
  • X-ray florescence (XRF) elemental analysis: The XRF gathers and measures the elements within a target area. This is used specifically for testing components for RoHS or hi-rel conformance, which refer to dangerous substances such as lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), and mercury (Hg) that are commonly used in electronics manufacturing. For suspect counterfeit devices, it helps determine if a component has the correct plating for the specification it is supposed to adhere to XRF can be used for lead frame metal composition as well.
  • Package configuration and dimensions, the process measures key areas of the device to see if they fall within the original component manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Real-time X-ray analysis: X-ray analysis is performed. The internal construction of components are inspected (depending on the component package type) for legitimate issues such as broken/taut bond wires, electrostatic discharge damage, broken die or any other type of internal damage. For suspect counterfeit devices, the differences in die size/shape, lead frames, bond wire layout, are always inspected for specification conformances.
  • Scanning electron microscopy: A scanning electron microscope is used to perform an exterior visual inspection-more in depth than the previous visual inspection. This is usually performed on a two-piece sample from the evidence lot. Depending on the package type, indications of suspect counterfeit devices are sought, including surface lapping, sandblasting and sanding with regard to part marking removal.
  • Dynasolve: Dynasolve is a chemical used to break down epoxies in an effort to remove resurfacing material that is impervious to the standard RTS test.
  • Decapsulation/de-lidding and die verification: The die of a component is exposed with either corrosive materials or a cutting apparatus. This is done to inspect the die or "brain" of a component to determine its legitimacy. This process is performed on numerous samples to look for differences between samples, such as die metallization layout, revisions, part numbers, all of which are red flags for suspect counterfeit parts.

Summary: The counterfeit component landscape is changing, there is a need to continuously improve and stay on top of current detection training techniques for the prevention and mitigation of counterfeit electronic components. Counterfeit component detection programs must be delivered by subject matter expert instructors on this topic and designed for immediate implementation into a contractor’s quality manufacturing system, and for their component suppliers as well, from franchised component suppliers to independent distribution component suppliers. The programs speak to public law HR1540 Section 818 regarding counterfeit electronic piece part components.

For more technical information or program registration please contact:

ProSkill CTG: Rick Stanton



Blackfox Training Institute

Sharon Montana Beard

Direct 303-684-0135


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