Course Overview:

Counterfeit parts have found their way into every sector of industry, from consumer electronics and appliances to safety-critical areas including avionics, medical devices, and military systems. Parts shortages and obsolescence have provided opportunities for counterfeiters to capitalize on the demand for parts that may be in short supply. Hardware security, encompassing both unintentional vulnerabilities and malicious tampering, has become an increasing concern even when parts are obtained from authorized sources. 

Prior to the availability of standards that govern test methods for counterfeit part detection and avoidance, organizations and test laboratories developed widely varying approaches to mitigating the risk. This led to inconsistencies and gaps in the processes, technologies, and quantitative risk assessment methodologies needed to address the problem.

The SAE AS6171 family of standards was developed by the G-19A Test Laboratory Standards Development Committee to provide a risk-based testing methodology for counterfeit detection. Originally published in October 2016, it consists of a general requirements document and eleven slash sheets. The general requirements document sets out requirements and recommendations for risk assessment, test selection, sampling criteria, training, workmanship, and reporting associated with detection of counterfeit electrical, electronic, and electromechanical parts. The slash sheets govern a wide range of test methods as well as a method for developing a test plan that balances the investment of resources for testing against the level of risk associated with the parts and end-use application.

As both a comprehensive testing standard and a methodology for risk-based testing, AS6171 serves a pivotal role within any counterfeit prevention strategy.  It continues to undergo revision and expansion to include new test methods and to address evolving threats such as tampering.

Course Outline:

This full-day course will provide a thorough introduction to the requirements and use of the SAE AS6171 Test Methods Standard for Suspect/Counterfeit Electrical, Electronic, and Electromechanical (EEE) Parts. It will cover the General Requirements document, the Test Evaluation method, and the ten test methods that were all published in 2016.

Following a brief introduction to the challenges of supply chain security, the first half of the course will focus on the General Requirements document combined with the selection and evaluation of test plans for counterfeit part detection. An emphasis will be placed on the practical implementation of the requirements, illustrated with examples wherever possible.

This portion will address:

  • Overview of AS6171 document scope, structure and hierarchy
  • Key concepts and definitions
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk-based test sequence selection, including defects associated with various types of counterfeit parts and the confidence of detecting them using the various test methods
  • Sampling plans
  • Analysis and interpretation of results
  • Training and certification

The second half of the course will cover the ten individual test methods and their requirements. For each test method, a primer will be given on its purpose in the context of counterfeit EEE part detection, the associated procedure and equipment, and any special requirements concerning sample preparation or handling, reporting and personnel training. Wherever possible, specific examples and data will be presented of applications to the detection of counterfeit parts.

The list of covered test methods consists of:

  • External Visual Inspection (EVI) (including remarking, resurfacing, weight, dimensions, SEM)
  • X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) (including lead finish, thickness)
  • Delid/Decapsulation Physical Analysis (DDPA)
  • X-ray Radiological Inspection
  • Acoustic Microscopy: external and internal
  • Electrical Test: Curve Trace, Full DC, Key Electrical Parameters for AC, Switching, and Functional Tests; ambient or over-temperature (including environmental, burn-in, seal)
  • Raman Spectroscopy: materials identification
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR): materials identification
  • Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA): material analysis
  • Design Recovery (DR): device layout and function


Dr. Michael H. Azarian

Bldg. 89, Rm. 1103

University of Maryland

College Park, MD 20742