If there is one takeaway from the Symposium on Counterfeit Parts and Materials sponsored by SMTA and CALCE that took place in August, it is that the problem is getting worse. This should be alarming, given the amount of attention that has been paid to the presence of “fake” parts in the supply chain.
Discussion of counterfeits in the supply chain usually starts with the military. It’s the one sector that has both the budget and the concentration of sourcing to effect change.
It was less than a decade ago that the US found fake electronic parts in military aircraft. The discovery spurred a yearlong investigation resulting in bipartisan legislation (remember what that is?) establishing new policies and practices for counterfeit avoidance.
Today, the annual US defense budget bills contain language requiring the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and their contractors monitor supply-chain risks for counterfeit parts, although previous language requiring buyers to “detect and avoid counterfeit parts in the military supply chain” has been softened.
Still, we’ve been battling the problem for at least two decades now, yet most experts feel 1) the volume of fake parts has increased, and 2) the counterfeiters are better than ever.
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Organic solderability preservatives, or, if you prefer, organic surface protectants, or OSPs, have been with us for decades. Did you know more than 60% of the world’s boards use OSPs? They are in everything from smartphones to tablets to medical devices, airbags, and engine controls.
Major OEMs like Intel, Apple, Cisco, Continental, Bosch, Denso, and Hitachi Automotive are known to use them. Yet when engineers discuss their preferred finishes, OSPs tend to be on the outside looking in.
A new IPC task group is trying to bring an added layer of credibility to OSPs for high-temperature soldering by developing a standard, along with a series of test methods.
At a glance, OSPs have ample potential. Compared to metallic finishes, they are low-cost and offer much-sought-after surface coplanarity on the coated copper pads. They emerged in the 1980s as a replacement for hot air solder leveling, which was an omnipresent but more expensive, higher maintenance process. Because of their ability to produce thin, even coatings, OSPs seemed superior for assemblers working with advanced packages, and in some cases OSPs cut the cost of the finish up to 50% over HASL and even more versus finishes containing gold or silver. Major OEMs like Lucent adopted OSPs for a large percentage of their boards.
Some 13 years ago, UP Media Group launched the first virtual trade show for the electronics industry. In some ways – most, probably – we were ahead of the times. People liked it because it was simple to attend, but the platform wasn’t ready for prime time.
That’s not to say it was technically subpar. You could pop in and out of booths and talk to the personnel waiting for you, and I still feel for those folks who, driven by caffeine and excitement (or just an affinity for self-abuse), kept vigil around the clock as attendees in different time zones came on line and into the show. And we held webinars and chats with high-profile experts like Dr. Eric Bogatin. But in the end, attendees seemed to prefer meeting with peers face to face.
Covid-19 is injecting itself into almost every facet of our work and home lives, however, and we have to make some concessions to the times. As such, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to make PCB West a virtual event this year. The call was made following a survey of past attendees and talks with our more than 100 exhibitors.