Counterfeiters get better at their jobs

While counterfeit components will continue to be a problem in the supply chain fueled by shortages, electronic waste, and, yes, greed, independent distributors — a key source of supply for obsolete components and those in tight supply — have had to step up their fight against counterfeiters as they continue to get better at what they do.

I recently spoke with several independent distributors that said counterfeiters are continually improving their techniques, which is making it more difficult for them to detect bad parts. One distributor told me that counterfeiters would sand off the top markings on the parts, recoat and remark them and they looked pretty good until you put acetone to them, which would easily remove the markings, making it quite easy to detect the bad parts from the good.

That’s not the case today. Distributors say counterfeiters are using different types of epoxies and coatings that are resistant to acetone, and they are using laser marking machines. Independents also have to keep a close eye on new advanced techniques that are being used to improve the counterfeits, and find ways to combat them as they are discovered.

So as the counterfeiters improve their techniques, independents also have to get better at counterfeit detection and prevention. Many independents are putting more quality and inspection processes in place as well as investing more resources towards detection. In some cases, independents have started to use scanning acoustic microscopy to look for delamination because counterfeiters are becoming so good at producing fake parts.

But this equipment is expensive. The good news is that even if some independents don’t have the resources for their own in-house counterfeit labs packed with the latest and greatest equipment, there are third-party test houses that can provide the expertise.