As we begin a new year it’s important to always be aware of the possibility of counterfeit electronic components — even inexpensive thermal cutoff fuses. Some of the largest and most trusted thermal cutoff fuse makers discovered that cheap counterfeit fuses were being illegally sold. The counterfeits being distributed have not met Safety Standards and may not operate properly.
These problems could largely be avoided by only dealing with authorized distributors, but there is a growing pressure for smaller manufacturers to cut costs.
As of November 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 7,791 electrical manufacturing establishments employed 371,700 people. One of the biggest issues that U.S. manufacturers have faced in recent years is the average 20% structural cost burden they face compared to overseas competitors, and many companies are looking for ways to lower operational costs. While there are ways manufacturers and electrical engineers can cut costs, thermal cutoffs shouldn’t be one of those ways.
NEC SCHOTT (maker of SEFUSE brand thermal fuses) confirmed that counterfeit thermal cutoff fuses were being sold in the Chinese market. These SEFUSE thermal fuses were sold with the official NEC SCHOTT logo and other familiar branding, but came with a “high risk that [they] can lead to serious accident.”
Before purchasing thermal cutoff fuses for use in your products, make sure you’re working with an authorized distributor, otherwise you could end up working with counterfeit thermal fuse suppliers.
We have also been informed that counterfeit thermal cutoffs using the Elcut brand have been found in the Chinese marketplace. This time, counterfeiters weren’t just using the official Elcut logo, they were also posing as official distributors to Chinese buyers.
Always purchase safety equipment and fuses from official authorized distributors, and never from overseas or bulk auction websites. Counterfeit thermal fuses might look the same at first glance, but may be of poor quality and may not operate as expected.
Thermal fuses for manufacturers have to work as designed and at the rated cutoff temperature. While we haven’t yet received any reports of counterfeit fuses here in the United States, anyone who plans to use thermal fuses in 2016 should take care to work with only a legitimate thermal fuse company and trusted, authorized suppliers.