August 11, 2011 AT 12:03 pm

Counterfeit parts are a big headache


Crazy story! Counterfeit parts are a big headache..

Watch out for well-made counterfeit parts. We always suggest getting the real deal from authorized distributors OR buy from bonded brokers: the only time we ever got bit by this was on a totally discontinued part unavailable through normal channels, and we got our money back because the US-based broker had a policy.



  1. Shouldn’t all distributors use a chain of custody? This gets truly disturbing with the proliferation of counterfeit medicines and aircraft parts.

  2. Our purchasing guys get a bonus based on how much money they save, so we get hit with this a lot. I swear they buy stuff from guys in alleys wearing trench coats. In May we had 12 reels of counterfeit AVX caps make it into production, every single cap blew up when the assemblies were powered up. The site smelled like failure for weeks.

  3. Counterfeits are becoming a real problem in the semiconductor industry. It is always stated that customers MUST purchase through authorized distributors for a guarantee against counterfeit parts. About 5 years ago when a shortage hit, that made a lot of customers look at brokers and sadly many of those can be faked.
    Counterfeits can be very sophisticated which reminds me of a story. I used to work at a semiconductor manufacturer and a customer complained about failures. The devices where marked as they would be, but only after running the production test in the ATE was the device caught. It was decapped and it ended up being a competitor part.
    I believe Rochester Electronics is an authorized distributor of discontinued parts, but they are rather expensive.

  4. Several years ago at Niles Audio I was asked to help figure out why a batch of batteries for the IRemote remote control wouldn’t charge correctly. The remote control and charging base had a firmware based battery charger for the NiMh batteries that made use of two Dallas battery monitoring chips, one of which is used as a thermal sensor and is part of the battery pack. I had written the firmware for the remote control. Once I had the unit hooked up to the JTAG to debug it became clear that the thermal sensor chip was not working. I swapped out the ‘bad’ battery pack for a good one and it worked fine. So we opened up the battery pack and looked. It had been built with a part that was labeled ‘DS’ but NOT with the official Dallas logo or part number. We send several of the suspect parts to Dallas and they confirmed that the parts were counterfeit. These TO92 parts could have been 2N3904 transistors remarked as a Dallas part for all we know. Very strange that a part which is not hard to find or even expensive is being counterfeited. The factory (guess where!) that made the batteries for Niles ended up eating the cost of all the bad packs (Niles rejected the ENTIRE lot and demanded replacement).

  5. twenty years ago a friend was in Hong Kong and said that in the electronic component section, there were shops blatantly selling small printing machines for reprinting transistors and chips.

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