In an industry where parts are continually being discontinued, it is not unusual for parts leftover from a production run or purchased to hedge against obsolescence to be warehoused for numerous years before ever being needed again. During this time, improper storage and handling can degrade electronic components and impact their performance and lifespans. Since replacing these devices may be costly if not impossible, it may make sense to “relife” them rather than discard them.
Relifing, as specified in ECSS-Q-ST-60-14C, is a series of inspections and tests for verifying that the initial quality and reliability of Class 1, 2 and 3 electronic components hasn’t been adversely affected by time, storage conditions and/or handling. In most case the tests required to identify issues such as corrosion, splitting, arching and performance degradation include external visual inspection, leak testing, and electrical testing. (Solderability testing must also be performed if lead surface anomalies are discovered.)
Although the formal relifing standard, ECSS-Q-ST-60-14C, is a European one for use with space application components, a strong case can be made for adhering to this standard as a best practice for all such devices intended for use in other high reliability defense, aerospace, medical and telecom applications. View ECSS-Q-ST-60-14C.
Here are some tips from ACT as to when to consider having an EC relifed:
- Intended for use in a space project and application in Europe
- Exceeds flowdown date code restriction indicating oldest date code allowable
- Approaching or exceeds lifetime/shelf life listed on manufacturer’s spec sheet
- Potentially compromised by improper handling or environmental conditions
- Before mounting a component that has been stored for over 7 years
For more information about the potential hazards of long-term EC storage and more information about the relifing testing ACT can perform, read this.