March 7, 2012

Advanced Component Testing: X-ray Imaging

In my last post, I wrote about XRF analysis in the first of a three-part series on advanced component testing capabilities. Converge offers each of these capabilities in-house as an added quality assurance measure for our customers. If any discrepancy raises a red flag during our initial 76-point electronic component inspection – from suspicious markings to inaccurate measurements – our in-house certified engineers use advanced testing methods to further investigate the authenticity of the components. One of those testing methods is X-ray imaging. 

Everyone is familiar with X-ray technology. It is very likely that you have or someone in your family has needed at least one medical X-ray at some point. Even young children can understand how the advanced imaging that X-rays provide is beneficial to physicians. 

X-ray imaging for electronic components works in the same way. There are smaller high-resolution X-ray machines that are uniquely designed to look inside components (e.g., ICs, capacitors, diodes, resistors and hybrids) to help detect flaws that aren’t obvious through exterior examination. In addition, X-ray imaging is able to provide this internal view without destroying the parts. 

By comparing a component’s X-ray image with the manufacturer’s data sheet, or the internal structure of a known-good sample with the same date and lot code, Converge engineers can detect substandard or counterfeit components that might otherwise go unnoticed. X-ray imaging can reveal differences in die size, die frame, wire bond patterns, and internal lead characteristics. It can identify shorts or bridges, detect cracks in the epoxy, and recognize tampering attempts. This makes X-ray imaging an important part of any quality-driven electronics distributor’s counterfeit-prevention program. 

These side-by-side X-ray images show integrated circuits in discrepant condition. While the lead frame and die pad is the same for both parts, the size of the die is different. This is suspect for parts within the same date or lot code. It would not be suspect for different date codes if there was documentation of a die redesign.

However, X-ray equipment is also very expensive and requires expertise to operate. Therefore, many smaller independent electronics distributors do not offer this testing capability. It requires a significant capital investment that many are not able – or perhaps willing – to make. In some instances, other distributors outsource their X-ray testing at significant added cost to their customers. 

Converge is proud to offer, at no additional cost, in-house X-ray inspection whenever extra verification is needed, as an added level of protection for our customers. It helps us ensure the authenticity of every order that passes through our warehouse and maintain the integrity of our supply chain. More important, it helps us provide peace of mind to every company we serve. 

If you missed Part I - XRF Analysis or Part III - Decapsulation of our Advanced Component Testing blog series, you can read them now.

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