Screaming Circuits: PBGA and counterfeit parts


PBGA and counterfeit parts

Commonly held wisdom tells us that "PBGA" is an acronym for "Plastic Ball Grid Array." The "Plastic" refers to the material used to encase the silicon substrate and serve as the mechanical support for the component. In most cases, we have found this to be the case and we are very well versed at handling this type of component, be it a lead-free RoHS or a traditional leaded part.

However, we have recently received word of a small counterfeit ring operating out of the dirt patch behind a garage, right next to an old Ford, up in Kelso, Washington. The perpetrator and his crew aren't necessarily high-tech folks, but they are avid duck hunters and as any bird hunter well knows, the use of lead shot for upland game fowl has been banned for several years now. According to statements made by him and his little brother, lead has a greater reach then does the steel shot used in shotgun shells today.

Pbga_1_2The counterfeit ring has been scraping the lead balls off of BGA parts and replacing them with miniature pumpkins, resulting in PBGA (Pumpkin Ball Grid Array) or just Pumpkin Grid Array for short (click the photo for a larger view). They then fill their shotgun shells with the lead balls, grab a half-rack and go hunt'n.

The main problem with the counterfeit components is that pumpkins tend to not conduct electricity as well as lead solder or SAC solder balls do. This disadvantage is slightly offset by the wonderful pie-like aroma that emanates from our reflow oven when boards with these parts are processed.

During pumpkin season, we request that you inspect your plastic BGA parts for pumpkin contamination, or at least send whipped cream along with your parts kit. Everyone knows Pumpkin pie is better with whipped cream.

Duane Benson
let not the sands of time get in your lunch

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