Resistors, bound by ties of technology and applications to the capacitor sector, are, not surprisingly, reporting many of the same trends as their counterparts.
Rohm Corp. has significantly increased its capacity for thick-film chip resistors this year. With a focus on smaller case sizes, the Atlanta company this year has built up capacity by as much as 42% at plants in the Philippines and Japan. Although Rohm has increased capacity by about 50% for tantalum capacitors, that's not significant because it is not a big player in the market. Much of the expansion is focused on the small A and B case sizes.
Rohm is putting together capacity expansion plans for the next fiscal year, which begins in March 2001.
"As far as capacity increases for next year go, it's not known at this time, but demand has eased up significantly in the last month with a lot of adjustment," said Ken Sykes, senior vice president of sales for the Eastern division at Rohm.
"For October, the backlogs are starting to decline, but we still have significant lead times," Sykes said. Lead times for the larger case sizes are about 30 weeks, according to Sykes, although lead times on 0603 and 0402 devices are back down to 12 weeks.
In the past year, CTS Resistor Electro Components, a subsidiary of CTS Corp., has added as much as 50% in production capacity for surface-mount resistor networks at its plant in Berne, Ind. The company added capacity in 1999, but not as much as it has this year, said Tim Hartigan, vice president and general manager at CTS.
The company still has extended lead times for surface-mount package styles; others are available in the usual three to four weeks.
Because CTS is forecasting a strong 2001, it will continue to focus on capacity expansion for surface-mount devices next year. The company will also introduce application-specific resistor networks.
"That will definitely be our focus area as we go forward," Hartigan said.
Although the market looks flat for IRC's standard network-product line, demand continues to rise for new designs in silicon-based integrated networks, said Steve Wade, director of sales and marketing at IRC Advanced Film Division, Corpus Christi, Texas.
"We're increasing capacity, but [we're doing it] in stages because of the six-month or longer lead times for production equipment," Wade said.
This year, IRC's Advanced Film Division has doubled its capacity for niche products such as current-sensing devices and precision tantalum nitrite chip capacitors and tripled its capacity for silicon-based products. "Those three product lines will be a major focus for us next year," Wade said.
Lead times for all three products are currently about 15 to 22 weeks because of high demand, according to Wade. "I expect demand to continue to be strong," he said.
As a result of this strong demand, IRC's Advanced Film Division plans to increase capacity by roughly 40% to 50% next year for these niche products.
In the past year, privately-held Bourns Inc. doubled its production capacity for through-hole conformal SIP and surface-mount networks at its Logan, Utah, facility. The capacity expansion for surface-mount product began in the fourth quarter of 1999 and was completed this year, said Rick Montrose, an application engineer based at the Logan plant.
Bourns reports lead times for conformal SIP resistor networks at about four to six weeks and deliveries for surface-mount networks at about 14 to 16 weeks. After the company works through its backlog in combination with capacity increases, lead times for surface-mount networks will return to six weeks, Montrose said.
Because Bourns is a new player in chip resistors, having only entered the market about two years ago, the company reports 6-to 12-week lead times for chip resistors.
For next year, Bourns is evaluating production-capacity increases for its thin-film resistor network line. "Demand seems to be on the upswing for the smaller packages," Montrose said.
Integrated passive-component suppliers are also seeing good growth. Focusing on the wireless- and portable-electronics markets, Intarsia Corp., Fremont, Calif., recently purchased equipment to add a new RF module assembly line at its manufacturing plant in Fremont.
With demand starting to take off, the company is looking to add a third shift to its chip-scale packaging line in 2001 as well, according to Jim Young, executive vice president of business development at Intarsia.
Yageo Corp., Taiwan's largest resistor maker, beefed up its capacity this year by acquiring Philips Components, the passive-device unit of Royal Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands. The acquisition brought Yageo 10 plants and two warehouses worldwide.
"My expectation for the second half of 2001 is that there won't be an oversupply, but there won't be a shortage of 0402 and 0603 devices, either," said Lambert Hilkes, chief executive of Yageo America Corp., Woodinville, Wash. "However, there will continue to be a shortage of 0805 and 1206 devices," Hilkes said.
Hilkes noted that there has been an overall slowdown in the telecommunications sector because large players in Europe and the United States have scaled back their forecasts. "Their expectations for next year have been reduced by 20% to 40%. This means that the shortages will ease because they won't need as many 0402 and 0603 devices. Plus, a slowdown in Asia-Pacific has started," Hilkes said.