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Counterfeit Electronic Components, Are We Feeding The Problem?

Updated on October 3, 2012
A form of harvesting electronic components from e-waste for resale as new parts
A form of harvesting electronic components from e-waste for resale as new parts

There's a silent battle raging throughout the world that not many people know or probably care about, and they should care.

The battle is stopping producers of counterfeit electronic components from selling their dangerous, sub standard products and entering them into the global electronic supply chain where they end up in electronic devices that can either make a product malfunction, stop working or even cause death. The suppliers and distributors of components throughout the world are in constant battle and have to keep improving their supply chain checking processes and their quality assurance processes as the counterfeiters work on improving the processes in which they make and distribute their deadly products.

Not everyone realizes the potential deadly scenario that can come from having a device that contains counterfeited electronic components. One only has to take a look around the home for a start, there are so many items we own and use everyday that are full of thousands of electronic components, everything from the refrigerator in the kitchen to the alarm clock in the bedroom, our home are full of them. Ok so, if one of these devices has counterfeited components and the device fails, if it's under warranty no problem, it's replaced or fixed, if it's not then it's an annoyance while we replace the device, no big deal. Now, what if the device happens to be in a pace-maker helping keep a family member alive, or an incubator used in a hospital to keep a premature baby alive, or an aircraft travelling from New York to London with 350 people onboard, a malfunction in a device like these created by a counterfeited components has the potential to cause harm and death. So it's important that we take notice of what's going on in the world of electronic components.

The amount of electronic waste is increasing each year.
The amount of electronic waste is increasing each year.

One of the most common production methods of fake parts is through a process of harvesting circuit boards, this is where individual components are removed from electronic waste, they are sorted into like piles, often consisting of components that are very different to each other on a component lever and only resemble each other physically. They are then usually washed and re-stamped or re-branded then sold off as new components. Most of the counterfeited components on the market today come from China.

A side issue is many of the states throughout the United States have passed laws in limiting electronic waste going into landfills and it has to be processed in a different way, thus driving the recycling of electronic waste, this is great for the environment of course however as of now the US exports 90% of it's electronic waste most of it going to China.

If the US was putting so much time and money into stopping the illegal importing of counterfeited electronics that are highly likely to have come from component harvesting, why don't they look at where countries like China are getting their supply. It would be a logical step to reduce the amount of exported electronic waste by encouraging and promoting recycling within our own, or pre-processing any electronic waste before export so it is unusable to the counterfeiters.

Resource Information

Electronic component and semiconductor distributors along with cable and coaxial cable suppliers are also taking an active part in the fight against counterfeiting components entering any supply chain buy using up-to-date processes in sourcing their catalogue items.

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