Identifying Counterfeit Components

In the last few years the electronics industry has seen an increase in the use of non-functional counterfeit electronic parts. The counterfeit part may have the appearance of the correct device, but at closer inspection it is revealed to be a copy or one recovered from recycled electronic waste that has been relabled or remarked.

SEM Lab, Inc. has detected a number of counterfeit or reconditioned tantalum capacitors implicated in premature failures of products across a range of applications both military and commercial. Below are examples of counterfeits to illustrate the factors that differentiate the faux parts from authentic parts.



Logos - counterfeit or reconditioned parts are often poorly marked:

Counterfeit
Counterfeit
Counterfeit
Counterfeit
Dielectric Void
Authentic


Package condition - reconditioned parts are often sand blasted prior to remarking:

Counterfeit
Counterfeit
Authentic
Authentic


One way to identify counterfeit tantalum capacitors is to microsection them and measure the dielectric thickness. Counterfeits can be relabeled with the wrong voltage rating:

Authentic