Comparing Counterfeit and Authentic Parts


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 as shown below:

Counterfeit logo marking

Counterfeit logo marking.

Counterfeit logo marking

Counterfeit logo marking.

Authentic logo marking

Authentic logo marking.

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






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:

Ta counterfeit graph

Ta capacitor counterfeit graph.