Inspection Methods

Since 2004, White Horse has proudly developed an extensive profile of inspection services and backed it with uncompromising report integrity.

We utilize international manufacturing standards, AQL sampling plans, and rigid inspector training. Continuous research and experimentation by our Quality Engineering team has generated creative solutions to the ever-evolving technologies utilized to mask counterfeit electronic components. This proactive dedication keeps White Horse and our clients ahead of market attempts to mask the true condition of components. All processes are conducted in-house.

External Visual Inspection (EVI)

The first, and most essential, step for any component evaluation is a thorough inspection process. Our procedure and acceptance standards have been developed in order to detect and report evidence of remarking, resurfacing, and refurbishing.

Marking permanency and resistance to solvents, resurfacing, dimension verification, marking code matching, high-power magnification inspection of body and terminal condition are standard methods within our inspection process. All inspections and observations are reviewed by Quality Engineers to evaluate whether we are seeing a new counterfeiting technique or a manufacturing anamoly. This service is available in both our Hong Kong and Shenzhen facilities.

For the evaluation of components from the open market, we helped write the book.

EVI Sample Report

Radiography (X-ray)

Inspection and analysis of a component to examine hardware integrity and variations between devices within a population. Not all variations, however, mean a counterfeit device. Understanding the manufacturing process and how manufacturer supply chains and engineering controls operate, we can identify when variations are manufacturing-based rather than indicators of counterfeiting.

Our X-ray system is real-time and can rotate the object on all three axes for outstanding imaging capability and analysis of individual components and assembled boards.

Board-level examination can identify solderability problems on BGA and through-hole connections that are not visible through optical inspection. Looking at the photos below, you see one of the thru-hole barrels of a soldered PCBA. The IPC-610 workmanship standard requires a minimum of 75% of the barrels, and on this board the top-side holes are not visible through the bulk of the component. Through X-ray we were able to verify that these assembled boards were out of specification and needed to be reworked.

Decapsulation

A destructive test that removes the insulation material of the component to reveal the die. The die is then analyzed for markings and architecture to determine traceability and authenticity of the device. Magnification power of up to 1,000x is necessary to identify die markings and surface anamolies.

Our decapsulation report includes analysis of the die markings and topography to clarify what is verified versus still unverified about a device. We do not only send images and leave the analysis up to you.

The abvove photos are an excellent example. The requested device is a Maxim low-noise, low-voltage precision operational amplifier. Decapsulation revealed Analog Devices and “8002″ die markings. This is also an amplifer, but a current feedback amplifier. The packages are the same but the device was obviously a different type of amplifier from an alternative manufacturer remarked as the requested Maxim device.

X-ray Flouresence (XRF) Material Analysis

The spectrometer is used for measuring the controlled elements in lead-free and RoHS compliant devices and determining the composition of plating materials. We also use this equipment for helping to detect reconditioned and resurfaced parts by measuring the plating thickness and variations in the composition of the surface material.

Imagine this scenario – the above device should be a medical-grade connector with gold-plated leads. While the leads do look gold to the naked eye, XRF shows that they are simply the copper base-metal of the lead frame. The gold-plating is for flawless electrical connections. In medical applications, there is no second chance.

Solderability Testing

This is not a counterfeit detection method as oxidation occurs naturally; however, it is a significant issue for functionality and is particularly prevalent in hot, humid climates such as Southeast Asia and the southern states in North America. The joint standard J-STD-002 defines the test methods and accept/reject criteria for thru-hole, surface mount, and BGA devices. For non-BGA surface mount devices, the dip-and-look is employed and the “ceramic plate test” for BGA devices has recently been incorporate into our suite of services. Devices that are delivered in inappropriate packaging, acceptable packaging but are over one year old, or display contamination on the pins are recommended for solderability testing.