There’s no denying that this is a problem on a monumental scale, and it’s only getting worse. Current estimates for the annual loss to the electronics industry due to counterfeit components is north of $5 billion. With rewards that high, it’s no surprise that criminal enterprises are getting more and more sophisticated in their efforts to cash in on counterfeit parts. Beyond the financial damage caused to the industry are the social costs. Worse, these profits find their way into funding other criminal activities. What’s more people lives are put at risk when fake components make their way into mission critical products. Consider the ramifications of a component failure in a fighter jets engine system or driverless car.
As an industry, we must step-up our efforts and meet this problem head on. We need to leverage more sophisticated solutions. X-ray is one of several tools that can be deployed to combat the counterfeiters. Here are a few examples of where x-ray can help fight the war on fakes! Click on the image below to start a slideshow the technology is being used right now.
We’ve been developing x-ray systems and algorithms to find counterfeit components for over a decade. What we’ve learned over time is that the quality of counterfeit components continuously improves, making them increasingly harder to detect.
The criminal enterprise that fabricates fake components has increased in volume and sophistication. As a result, the techniques we need to deploy to detect these fakes also needs to become more sophisticated. Not long ago, we could detect most counterfeit components using a simple visual inspection. Now, most components pass visual inspection even when they are counterfeit.
That increases the importance of x-ray inspection as a tool to check for lot uniformity and to assess component authenticity. We don’t expect the counterfeit electronic component problem to reduce in volume and complexity anytime soon. In fact, we expect it to continue to grow since economic incentives are high. Therefore, we must and will continue working on the next ten techniques to find the counterfeit components of tomorrow.