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I have a QFN part that contains exposed pins on the side (in addition to the bottom). It looks like the quantity and spacing of the side pins are perfectly matched with the bottom pins, except there are a couple little smaller pins in the corner. Here is an image of the side view:

enter image description here

What is the purpose of these? I'm kind of hoping I can solder to the side pins instead of the bottom pins since it's sometimes hard for me to tell if the bottom pins are shorted/open

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When the die was attached to the leadframe and the epoxy encapsulant was molded over it, the leadframe was still connected to a larger structure (and probably to an array of other die locations).

The metal you see from the side of the package is where the leadframe was sheared of to separate this particular package from the others.

enter image description here

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