Retronix Blog

Oct 20, 2017

When you buy from the grey market, what can go wrong, and can it be fixed?

Issue : ICs have solderability issues

What caused it? : Old ICs, where the packaging is out of date. Over time they have oxidised (rusted)

Can it be fixed? : YES

How? : Auto dip them to refresh the solder alloy, and verify solderability issue has gone by carrying out a sample solderability test.

Issue : IC has the wrong alloy

What caused it? : Old IC’s eg. manufactured with tin/lead finish and needs lead free (or vice versa!)

Can it be fixed? : YES

How? : Convert alloy using autotin then do a xrf test to verify alloy is now correct

Issue : ICs fail Curve Trace (Electrical Test)

What caused it? : Either faulty ICs, or removed from PCBs and reprocessed not using a safe process, or deliberate attempt to disguise them as something else.

Can it be fixed? : NO

How? : Curve trace will pick up electrical differences pin to pin between known IC and one which is faulty/counterfeit

Issue : IC has bent legs

What caused it? : Poor handling of old ICs

Can it be fixed? : YES

How? :  Auto lead straightening then ICOS test

Issue : IC has warping

What caused it? : Poor removal from PCB, incorrect temperature ramp or no pre-bake

Can it be fixed? : NO

How? : ICOS measures mechanical size of IC, so will pick up warping. However it’s a sign of permanent damage so should not be used.

Issue : IC has substrate damage

What caused it? : Poor process for removal from PCB and reprocessing

Can it be fixed? : YES, however any internal damage sustained in the process cannot, and will be found with electrical testing.

How? : FR4 damage can be filled in, and new soldermask added to avoid eg. shorting of BGA spheres.


Do you have more examples to add on the list above. We would like to know, please click here and share your experience with us.