Why is IC Recovery required?

As has been mentioned before, the Hi-Rel industry doesn’t use the latest technology components, and the ones it uses, it uses for a long time.

This has led to many “obsolescence” issues in the industry, where they are looking to use components which have long since stopped getting made.

So if they can’t buy them new, what do they do? The place they went to was the “grey market”. Normally ICs are made by the manufacturer (eg Intel), then bought by a “franchised distributor” (eg Arrow) who have a contract with the manufacturer. This is the safest place to buy components.

The grey market is the independent brokers, who buy up eg. unused stock from a build and store it for future sale.

The thing about the grey market is the history is unknown, which has led to many unscrupulous operators looking to make a quick buck illegally :

  • Changing components to look like the one in demand
  • Passing off used components as new.

This is not a great option, but often the only one. There was another option, but it was not approved by the Hi-Rel industry.

Many Hi-Rel products (eg radar system) are made with a huge amount of spare parts, including PCBs. Often when the new generation system comes into production there are still plenty of unused spare PCBs available. With the Hirel industry using the same trusted components on different systems, this provides another source.  Also often when a company makes the next generation of a product, it will contain components from the previous generation. So a potential source of obsolete components is to harvest them from unused spare PCBs from previous generation systems or other systems.

The reason this is not used often is because of the amount of reflow cycles needed in the process, which exceeded the component manufacturers recommendation. If a safer way was available (as it is with Retronix) then this is often seen as safer than the grey market, as the hirel company knows the components are genuine and unused.

This is the established, old method of doing this :

Reflow Cycle

So this is a total of 4 or more, which exceeds the manufacturers spec. Even if it was not a BGA, so didn’t require a reball reflow cycle, it’s still on the maximum allowed, plus the heat used to remove solder, which is risky.


Retronix solved this issue by removing most of the reflow cycles

    • One to assemble the original spare PCB in the first place – Can’t do anything about this, it’s already happened.
    • One to remove the IC – We remove the component from underneath. This cant be used in rework as it can delaminate the PCB, separating the layers. However in this case we don’t care about the PCB, it’s the component we want to protect. (CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO)
    • Heat used to remove the old solder – We use a controlled non abrasive air knife. (CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO)
    • One to reball the BGA thru a reflow oven – We use laser, no reflow. (CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO)
    • One to place component again on new PCB – Can’t do anything about this


    So our process reduces reflow cycles to 2 overall, which is safe to use.

    Of course this is not ideal, it’s better if they can buy the part new. However they cannot, so it’s this or the grey market, which is far riskier.

    SECTORS THAT COULD BE INTERESTED IN THIS PROCESS – OEM’s , CEM’s, Automotive, Industrial, Telecommunication etc.