The Year of the Passive Component
2/22/2011 4:44 PM EST
By Joe Moxley, senior engineer, of Custom Electronics, Inc.
The year is young, but it doesn’t seem premature to go ahead and crown 2011 the year of the passive component. Manufacturers want higher quality parts for specific applications. And with new materials and packaging techniques rolling out, component makers are ready to fulfill whatever demands the market brings.
Today’s industrial and consumer electronics are full of inductors, capacitors and resistors. These modular products, often grouped together and called passive components, are everywhere, and demand for them is growing. In 2009, these technologies fueled $22 billion in sales. Global economic turmoil? It has barely touched passive components, and the market has well-founded, high expectations that 2011 will be even bigger. Capacitors, which account for 60 percent of the market, will become increasingly attractive to manufacturers who want smaller, cheaper, better parts.
Manufacturers use a wide variety of materials with dielectric properties to enhance energy density, frequency response, ESR, ESL and temperature range in capacitors. Advances in material science have led to a burgeoning of passive components designed for a particular application, and this trend will only continue. An example of the importance of new materials is found in the ultracapacitor arena; ultracapacitors range in value from 1 to 9000 F or more, and their energy density has been gradually increasing over the last decade through ongoing research efforts with the goal of making energy density on par with some battery types. In the case of ultracapacitors, if new electrolytes and electrode materials can be found to enhance energy density to be on par with lead acid storage batteries, it could lead to the wholesale replacement of lead acid storage devices with superior performing ultracapacitors .
This will also be a big year for packaging. The MLCC, with its previous error-inducing use of ceramic substrate, is an example of the impact of packaging changes. The market solved that problem by packaging the devices with “flexible” lead-outs, and we will see similar advances in the next 12 months. New and nano-scale materials are coming to passive component manufacturing, and they could be game changing.
Joe Moxley is a senior engineer at Custom Electronics, Inc., a manufacturer of high-quality, high-reliability electronic products for military, commercial/industrial, renewable energy, aerospace and oil exploration markets. Joe has 31 years of experience in the design and manufacturing of reconstituted mica paper capacitors with short forays into stacked/plate mica capacitors and polypropylene capacitors.