ACT Educational Series #6 – June 2018

Heated Solvent Testing

Counterfeiters are always implementing new methods of resurfacing a device that are more resistant to solvents. A decade ago they would typically sand the surface of a chip to remove any markings, resurface or blacktop the device, and then remark it with a different part number: Standard acetone testing would normally reveal that. Now they often remove the part markings with acid and then resurface it with an epoxy-based blacktop coating and apply new markings: This process is, by design, resistant to a simple acetone test. As a result the testing industry has developed heated solvent testing (HST), which is a more aggressive… Read the rest of ACT’s article How-to-Spot-a-Counterfeit: Heated Solvent Testing in the Q2 2018 ERAI INSIGHT.

ACT Educational Series #5 – January 2018

The Power of SEM Analysis

Analysis of an EEE component via a scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a truly enlightening process that may reveal things which might go undetected with less powerful equipment. By magnifying up to 250,000 times and providing a greater depth of field, a SEM can help a trained specialist uncover the telltale signs of a counterfeit part or gain insight into if and possibly why a device may have failed. Continue reading

ACT Educational Series #4 – September 2017

Up-Screening Issues & Tips

It happens, especially when you’re working with older parts.  When you just can’t find an electronic component with the right manufacturer specs to do the job, either at all or at anything but an exorbitant price, then it’s time to consider up-screening parts you either have in stock or can purchase. “Up-screening” is testing for the purpose of documenting device performance to higher specs, including wider temperature ranges, as compared to original manufacturer drawings. Up-screening is made possible by the fact that semiconductors and other active and passive components can often operate above and beyond at least some of their official specifications. Continue reading

SAE Releases Sister Standard to AS6081 for Labs: AS6171 – March 2017

ACT is One of Few Facilities that Can Comply with AS6171

The fact that counterfeit EEE parts are in the supply chain, and may be unwittingly purchased by those requiring components that are unavailable through direct or franchised channels, has been a known issue for over a decade. During this time, counterfeiters keep finding new ways to make and profit from seemingly authentic parts that are refurbished, mislabeled, substandard and/or non-functional.

In order to mitigate the numerous costs and even potentially catastrophic risks associated with counterfeit electronic components,  industry organizations and U.S. agencies have been developing standards that various supply chain actors can (and in many cases, must) comply with in an effort to weed out counterfeit parts and improve the overall integrity of the supply chain. As the problem continues to evolve, so do the standards in the form of sporadic revisions and altogether new standards that provide increasing granular detail with respect to requirements and test methods. Continue reading

ACT Educational Series #3 – August 2016

What Makes Op Amp Testing So Challenging

Operational amplifiers are a key building block used by engineers to develop analog circuits and are thus one of the most widely used electronic devices today. Unfortunately these little workhorses have a propensity to oscillate and their testing entails minute measurement, which means that one has to get creative in order to produce accurate results. The staff at ACT has significant expertise dealing with analog phenomena and, over the last year, has developed a variety of field proven methods: Continue reading

Educational Series #2 – February 2016

Manual vs. Automated Testing

There are two basic approaches to performing electrical tests: manual and automated. ACT offers both types of testing and would like to explain and compare them to help you understand the difference.

Manual testing involves the development of specific test circuits and the use of electronic bench equipment in its execution.  It is a labor intensive methodology that begins with the development of a test procedure, which is followed by an operator who performs the test manually. Continue reading

Avoid Paying for Subpar Testing

For a while, Advanced Component Testing (ACT) has been hearing from some of our customers about their paying for component testing only to realize, after the fact, that the testing failed to meet their actual requirements. As one of a handful of trusted test labs for some of the most discerning organizations, recently recertified to ISO 17025, ACT would like to offer you insight into the problem and a few tips on how to avoid finding yourself in this precarious situation.

The Problem: You request a quote for electrical testing and receive one from a test house that appears to meet your specifications. Unfortunately you don’t realize that the testing quoted does not rise to the level of your requirements—and may even have little value as an electrical test, such as inappropriate use of go/no-go results. Continue reading

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