Located in Spokane, Washington, Hi-Rel Laboratories is an independently owned and operated corporation, whose main concentration of activity is in the materials evaluation of the micro-electronic oriented phases of commercial, aerospace and defense industries.


Our company was originally founded to provide technical services to the rare coin collector, numismatics, i.e. detect counterfeit or altered coins. The services, based on E-beam microanalysis found ready acceptance by the materials-oriented portion of the aerospace community. Within five years of its founding in 1968, it had added scanning electron microscopy to its services. By 1973, due to changing roles of supplier and user of electronic and micro-electronic components, it realized the potential growth requirements of the aerospace industry for component testing and qualification known as DPA Destructive Physical Analysis. Today there are mil specs and numerous customer specifications which precisely define these needs.

Due to the urging of TRW (Fleet Sat Com) and Hughes Aircraft (Trident) and their commercial satellite division, DPA became a major thrust of activity. The company grew from 4 in 1968 to 20 engineers and technicians by 1976. To keep pace with the changing requirements of the military, NASA, and commercial space programs, the staff has been involved in the writing and revision of specifications, such as the scanning electron microscope criteria, MIL-STD 883, method 2018, and the internal visual inspection criteria for integrated circuits and hybrids, MIL-STD 883, methods 2010, 2017 and 2032. Additionally Hi-Rel has been actively involved in prior revisions of the Air Force DPA specification MIL-STD 1580 and is are working on the next revision, which will be out this year!

As the DPA activity grew, other aspects of the laboratory expanded to include failure analysis of both electronic components and other less fragile items ranging from printed circuit boards to turbine blades from jet aircraft engines. Hi-Rel has been widely utilized by Space Systems manufacturers as an unbiased source for solving and resolving high visibility component failures and associated production processing issues which could lead to program stoppages or delays.

To maintain its expertise and capabilities in the various disciplines, our staff is constantly attending and participating in various technical symposia and organizations throughout the country such as ASM, IEEE, IMAPS, IRPS, ISTFA, EOS/ESD and FACTS.

Our Chairman, John Devaney, started with Hi-Rel in 1972 and was responsible for the thrust into electronic component testing due to his expertise in materials analysis techniques applied to micro electronics failure analysis. Mr. Devaney has published over a hundred technical papers and notes as well as lectured to industry and government centers around the world. He has authored a book on electronics failure analysis techniques.

Unlike many Presidents, Mr. Devaney continues to be personally involved in the majority of analyses performed here at the laboratory in at least a technical review capacity. He also continues to provide industrial training courses in failure analysis techniques and trends.

In 1992, Hi-Rel moved from southern California in an effort to drive down its operating expenses and to benefit the employees through a lower cost of living. We have passed these savings on to our customers in the form of reduced pricing while maintaining our excellence in quality. The results of the move have been dramatic.

Today, Hi-Rel is thriving on a strong presence in Space Program component evaluation (DPA) and a blend of largely commercial materials and electronic failure analysis. Because of our strength and emphasis in materials evaluation of electronic materials, coupled with a commitment to being highly cost effective, Hi-Rel has established itself as the leader in the DPA testing market. With the current reductions in the availability of class S product and the transition to QML and COTS components, Hi-Rel foresees an increased demand for cost effective and informative DPA and Construction Analysis (CA) testing. Hi-Rel is positioned to assist this need as technology advances.