While we continue to "bump along the bottom" there are some interesting developments in the passive component industry.
Back in the end of 2008 most passive component factories cut production by 30 to 50% in reaction to the global recession.
After Chinese New Year in February 2009 and a Chinese government stimulus package in March business in Asia picked up considerably.
Manufacturers of capacitors, resistors and magnetic products did not, however, increase capacity. Consequently as inventories continued to deplete lead times extended on certain items and sizes. In addition raw material suppliers have also cut back capacity and do not anticipate adding any back until prices stabilize or increase.
We are seeing spot shortages on "high CV and high voltage MLCC's" with lead times out over 10 weeks. We are also seeing extended lead times on standard MLCCs, small case Tantalum Chips and larger case size Aluminum Electrolytics. Prices seem to be firming on all these devices as well.
The market in Asia is still uneven but with capacity restraints remaining equilibrium between supply and demand is getting closer.
If you look at the earnings reports for passive component makers you will note that the majority are losing money. It seems obvious that they will rid themselves of unprofitable businesses and product lines as well as turning down low priced orders.
Just recently it was reported that durable goods sales are improving which could bring more purchasing in components. Any spikes in demand or disruption of supply will definitely set up shortage scenarios.
We think it is time to carefully increase inventories on "A" items and pipeline products more aggressively for your customers.
NIC's product development focus is upon "performance passives", for emerging markets including Green Power, Extended Lifetime Products and advanced lighting (LED, etc).
With increasing requirements of lower voltage higher power circuit designs, we have expanded our power inductor product line to include high technology metal composite construction SMT inductors. With potential to replace Vishay's IHLP series, our NPIM_C series has molded metal composite construction, providing high saturation current ratings (up to 110A) and improved efficiency (2x improvement over ferrite core types). These will be added shortly, for immediate sampling, to our NIC Quick Kit program.
Aluminum electrolytic capacitors continue price - performance advantage over tantalum and MLCCs types in Capacitance >10uF and Voltages >16VDC. Advancements by Japanese MLCC makers have reached 100uF ceramic chip capacitors, but only at very low voltage (6.3VDC or less) and with poor stability over voltage - time - temperature. Long lead times (and high unit pricing) for high cap MLCCs will delay replacement of aluminum electrolytic capacitors in many applications.
Advances in materials and processing has resulted in extended lifetime aluminum electrolytic capacitors, include several new and expanded products in SMT solid aluminum flat chip types (470uF/2VDC) for use in Socket "T" and high performance u-processors (Intel XEON) point of load and DC-DC applications. Increasing requests for longer lifetime components, typically for extended lifetime equipment and systems. 10,000 hour ratings (+105C) in both SMT V-chip and radial leaded aluminum electrolytic capacitors formats are available today. Our +150C rated radial leaded aluminum electrolytic capacitors are seeing use in lighting ballast applications, where high temperature and long lifetimes are needed.
We are adding NSPE-S expanded hybrid technology (liquid - solid polymer electrolyte) aluminum electrolytic capacitors to our popular Quick Kit program. Hybrid constructions offers the low ESR (equivalent series resistance) characteristics of solid polymer electrolyte capacitors, but with higher voltage ratings (up to 16VDC), at much lower cost than solid polymer types (i.e. replace OS-CON, and similar). Look out for soon-to-be-released expanded temperature range and higher voltage ratings in hybrid construction SMT V-chip aluminum electrolytic capacitors from NIC.
Conversion to Lead-Free PCB process (by 2010) for those customers, who had taken earlier exception from RoHS, is driving further interest in higher reflow soldering heat rated versions (+250C & +260C) SMT V-chip aluminum electrolytic capacitors.
Expect an EOL notice on legacy Sn-Pb (Tin-Lead) terminal finish on SMT V-chip aluminum electrolytic capacitors by end of 2009 (last orders into 2010)
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