How to Make Sure Your Electronics Components Supplier Is Authentic

August 9, 2021

With the proliferation of counterfeit parts, component buyers must now take great care in ensuring their supplier offers authentic products. Our team at Circuits Central has decades of experience in PCB design and prototype production in the Toronto marketplace.

We’ve helped many clients identify counterfeit parts from sources around the globe. To help guide you and protect you against the potential safety hazards and business issues associated with fake products, we’re highlighting how to make sure your components supplier is authentic.

Check the Markings on the Part

One challenge that many counterfeiters struggle to overcome is comparing the legitimate markings of parts manufacturers and those that are counterfeits. Issues such as incorrect brand name spelling, the wrong font or the wrong logo are a clear indication of a fake part. Even small elements such as the size of the indent in the label can indicate the component is not legitimate.

X-Ray the Part

Many facilities now have access to x-ray machines to detect faults within their components. You can use an x-ray machine on parts you suspect are fraudulent. The x-ray will show any broken or missing wires. It will also show missing or inconsistent die sizes. You might also use the x-ray to check for the presence of various cheap metals which counterfeiters use to create fake parts.

Check for Resurfaced Material

Counterfeiters may sand off the original markings on their fake parts and apply a coat of polymer to cover them up. They often use this method to represent older products as if they are their newer versions. You’ll likely see visible clues on a resurfaced part. You may see indents on a resurfaced microchip or you may recognize that the material has been altered and smoothed.

Use Abrasion and Scrape Tests

You may need to use abrasive products to check the legitimacy of the part. For example, you can use acetone at the top of the chip package. If the residue comes off, the chip is fake. You might also scrap the surface with sharp material to see if counterfeiters have resurfaced it.

Check for Clear Physical Deformities

Some counterfeiters build parts from reconstituted scrap electronics. In such cases, you’ll likely notice there is some level of physical wear and tear. You will also see scratch marks and bent wires.

Check Your Supplier

If you’re buying components directly from your supplier, make sure you know how to ensure your supplier is legitimate and can offer the highest quality authentic products. Although you can go through the various tests we’ve outlined in-house, you should also confirm that your supplier has specific tests to determine whether their parts are legitimate.

Ensure your supplier follows these guidelines:

  • They reveal their source for parts so that you can decide on the value they provide.
  • They follow the latest compliance standards for counterfeit avoidance.
  • They complete a visual inspection, resistance to marking tests, and x-ray tests on each part they supply.
  • They follow regular source assessment procedures and immediately cease work with a supplier they suspect of delivering fake parts.

Tips for Choosing a Qualified Supplier

Have you encountered an issue with fake parts? It’s time to review the marketplace and choose a supplier who can deliver parts according to your specifications.

But what are the signs of a qualified company? Let’s review a few tips for choosing a qualified parts supplier.

Don’t Fall for Deals That Are Too Good to Be True

One of the major mistakes companies often make in sourcing parts, particularly from overseas suppliers, is that they fall for the too-good-to-be-true deal. If the company can offer you a steep discount over the competition, consider how their business model allows them to provide the savings. It might be that the part isn’t to the standards delivered by other companies.

On the rare occasion that the company is simply more affordable than their competitors, still try to investigate how the company prices their products and ask for more information if their pricing is far below the market standard.

Check Their Website for Parts Information

How much information does the company provide via its website? Are they able to provide you with comprehensive testing data for each part? Do they explain their manufacturing process to you in detail?

A website with sparse product information is a clear sign that a company is unable to deliver authentic parts. Their website should detail the sizes for the components, their performance standards, and the quality control of their manufacturing process. If you cannot easily access this information, you might choose an alternative supplier.

Analyze the Reviews Carefully

The reviews of products online shouldn’t be the sole consideration when deciding how to source PCB parts. However, they can give you an indication about part quality. Look for in-depth parts reviews and information from past customers of the company.

Consider whether the quality of the parts matched the customer’s expectations and look into any concerns pinpointed within the reviews.

Consider Their Workforce

The style of the workforce the company employs plays a critical role in the quality of the components they manufacture. Are they able to explain the training their team undertakes to complete the manufacturing process? How do they recruit for their manufacturing teams?

When considering the purchase of components, make sure you can speak with a team member directly involved in the manufacturing process. This conversation can help you analyze their qualifications and determine the potential for any confusion regarding the demands of your specific part.

Trust Circuits Central for Market-Leading Prototype Production

Our experienced team at Circuits Central delivers quality prototype productions built to the highest of Toronto market standards. We have a clear product development pathway and can help guide your parts from the design stage to final delivery with precision. To learn more about checking electronic components suppliers, call Circuits Central at 1(888) 602-7264 or contact us here.

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