Monday, December 22, 2008

Gas Discharge Tube Arresters: World Markets, Technologies & Opportunities: 2008-2013

This newly released market research report is an 88 page detailed analysis of the global market for gas discharge tube arrester markets, technologies and opportunities. The study focuses on the global value and volume of demand for surface mount, two-terminal and three terminal gas tube arresters. Included in the study is a detailed analysis of competition by gas discharge tube type and form factor by case size. The study also includes consumption by end-use market segment, with a detailed analysis of competition by end-use market segment in telecommunications infrastructure, AC power line markets, and specialty electronic sub-assemblies; including applications in central office and station class infrastructure markets; CATV systems; customer premises equipment, branch line protection; and line voltage equipment protection markets. A vertical integration market analysis of consumption of gas tubes in SPDs is also given including applications in coaxial cable connectors, station class protectors, DIN Rail (NPE protectors), and panelmount and wallmount protectors. Sales and market shares for all major manufacturers is included, as is gas tube vendors by major distributor. An analysis of competitive technology is included as is a look at synergistic components. A detailed forecast is given for the 2009 fiscal year ending March, and subsequent years to 2013 for sales of gas discharge tubes by end-use market segment. For further information go to Gas Discharge Tubes: World Markets, Technologies & Opportunities: 2008-2013.
Keywords: Arrester, Circuit Protection, Overvoltage Protection, Gas Tube Arrester, GDT

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Study Addresses Competing Technologies For PTC Thermistor Components

A new market research report from Paumanok Publications, Inc. in their ongoing research program in circuit protection and non-linear resistors addresses the global market for PTC thermistors in competing ceramic and polymer technologies; and in their various configurations- radial, surface mount and axial strap; as well as their vertical integration into probe assemblies. The study shows a ten-year historical assessment of the global value and volume of consumption for PTC thermistors by type between 1998 and 2008 with forecasts to 2013. An analysis of price erosion for PTC thermistors by type is also given, with reasons for price erosion given by type. Markets for ceramic PTC thermistors are broken down into overcurrent protection, thermal overload protection and temperature sensing; while markets for polymer PTC thermistors are broken out by overcurrect protection and thermal protection. A detailed end-market assessment is given for subscriber line interface cards, DC motors, consumer electronics, lighting ballasts and other line voltage equipment applications. Demand by world region is discussed, with forecasts for each region to 2013. Sales and market shares for the top vendors by technology is given, as is a detailed look at each known vendor by technology (39 vendors overall). Technology assessment, trends and directions are noted; and overall forecasts are given to 2013. 119 pages. Released December 2008. For more information-PTC Thermistors: Global Market Forecasts: 2008-2013.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wodgina Tantalum Mine To Close-Impact on Capacitor Market May Be Substantial

Talison, the world's largest supplier of tantalum ore announced last night (Nov 25th 2008). they were closing the Wodgina tantalum mine in Australia. This mine supplied 50% of the world's supply of tantalum ore. The closing of the mine, to take place in December 2008, will have a major impact on the ability for capacitor manufacturers to make anodes. Expect dramatic price increases on tantalum capacitors and there to be short supply and allocation. There are no alternative resources that are viable to Wodgina, so the impact will be substantial. Tantalum capacitors are required for the production of notebook computers, game consoles, MP3 players, car electronics, defense electronics and medical implants. For volumetric efficiency, especially between 100 and 1000 microfarads in small case sizes, design enegineers have no viable choice but to use tantalum capacitors. Expect tantalum capacitor prices to skyrocket.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pessimistic About Pessisim

After 20 years following the high tech economy I can say that the current economic situation will pass probably by the Spring of 2009. Auto and Home Appliance will be affected, but that is only 15% of the electronics buy. The concept of people not buying electronics is just not really going to happen, so don't worry too much. This tiome around the manufacturers will invest ,ore in research and developmemnt to avoid investments in marketable securities, so expect some really cool gadgets to come down the line. We are not all like Steve Jobs and the great team at Apple, we reflect more of Intel because what's good for Inetl is good fro passive electronics components.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Joining Technology for Capacitors

A new method for mounting aluminum electrolytic capacitors to printed circuit boards may impact the entire passive component industry.

The joining of electronic components to a printed circuit board has historically required the heating and cooling of the same or different metals to create a mechanical and electrical bond. This process of soldering or brazing metals is fundamental in the manufacture of almost every electronic subassembly. The soldering process in electronics requires the application of a braze or solder between the designated surfaces of the respective components and heating the combined structure in a solder furnace or with a solder torch. And while this process has been used for decades to populate printed circuit boards with electronic components, the process creates a harsh environment for the components and the printed circuit board, which sometimes damages either the components, the board or both.

The traditional infrared reflow process and the wave soldering processes, or handheld torch heats both the component joint area and the component bodies being joined. The heating of the component body next to the joint area can slow the cooling down of the applied solder and can produce a solder attachment that can have an unusually enlarged microstructure which can lead to weakened mechanical and electrical properties. In passive electronic components the affect of excessive heat applied to certain types of dielectrics can lead to unique problems. One of the most sensitive passive components to heat is the surface mount aluminum electrolytic capacitor because of the internal requirement of a liquid electrolyte. When excessive heat is applied to an aluminum capacitor containing liquid electrolyte for an extended period of time, the electrolyte can boil and cause outgassing. This may not be immediately catastrophic for the component, but in some instances can lead to poor performance of the capacitor in a circuit, especially when applied as a filter for audio or video signals, or as an input or output filter on a power supply. Other passive components that have demonstrated difficulty in conventional soldering include DC film chip capacitors (because of the low melting point of such dielectrics as metallized polyester and polyethylene napthalate).

Reactive Foil Joining Technology:
Now a new process for mounting aluminum electrolytic capacitors and other passive components has been developed by Reactive NanoTechnologies, Inc. (RNT) of Hunt Valley, MD USA. According to the company- RNT’s patented NanoFoil® “is a new class of nano-engineered material, fabricated by vapor-depositing thousands of alternating nanoscale layers of aluminum and nickel.” When the reactive foil is activated by a 6 volt pulse of local energy, the foil reacts to precisely deliver localized heat up to temperatures of 1500°C in fractions (thousandths) of a second.

One of the most important developments of this technology is the ability to accurately predict the temperature profile on the various components when used in a joining application. The scientists at RNT have built a numerical model based on a simplified description of the self-propagating reaction of the foil. The model effectively simulates heat flow into the solder layers and temperature evolution over time within the bonded components. According to the patent, “bodies of materials are joined between mating surfaces by disposing reactive nanostructure foils between the mating surfaces and adjacent one or more layers of braze or solder. The composition and thickness of the foils are chosen, as by thermal modeling techniques, to minimize deleterious heating of the bodies and to provide an optimal heat profile to produce a nano-structured joint having superior mechanical properties.” This process can dramatically improve board yield ratios, especially when applied to parts that have demonstrated above normal failure rates because of direct access to applied heat for an extended period of time. In the instance of aluminum electrolytic capacitors for example, the applied heat lasts for only a fraction of a second, which significantly improvcs yields and ensures enhanced mechanical and electrical properties.

How The Technology Bonds Components To PCBs:
According to RNT, for joining components to a PCB, the multilayer foil is placed “between two metals that need to be bonded, along with two layers of solder or braze. Subsequently, mechanical pressure is applied to prevent the components from shifting during the RNT process and the chemical reaction between the aluminum and nickel layers in the foil is activated with a small electrical pulse” (that can delivered electrically, optically or thermally). The instantaneous heat from the foil's reaction “melts the solder or braze layers and enables metallic bonding at room temperature in less than one second.”

For joining applications the bonds created will experience lower stress and the materials being joined will not experience any damage because they are only heating the interface being joined. The average time that it takes for a reaction to start or components to join after activation of the foils is 10 milliseconds, or just 1/100th of a second. The bonding time is essentially instantaneous, and the entire device cools and can be handled within seconds. This limited application of heat to an aluminum electrolytic capacitor can theoretically eliminate failures or poor part performance that can occur with traditional IR reflow or wave soldering techniques.

Current Markets For The Reactive Foil:
Between 1994 (when the material was invented) and 2008 (when the current patent was granted- USP 7,361,412) the company has developed major markets in the joining of sputtering targets. The technology has also begun to make inroads into various types of electronic component assembly. The company’s primary customers in components are in surface mount LEDs and in plastic surface mount connectors. According to a spokesperson for the company- the first application of the reactive foil for joining aluminum electrolytic capacitors to printed circuit boards is already underway a large European manufacturer of automotive electronic subassemblies.

Aluminum Electrolytic and Other Passive Components:
The use of RNT’s foil for joining aluminum capacitors to the PCB is a new and exciting application for the company. The fact that neither the component nor the board area is exposed to excessive heat for an extended period of time through wave or IR reflow soldering improves the quality of the finished sub-assembly and dramatically reduces defects. Other passive components that may benefit from this new joining technology include plastic film chip capacitors (which have been known to delaminate during excessive soldering processes). DC film chip capacitors are usually manufactured from one of three primary dielectrics- PET, PEN and PPS. PET is usually the lowest cost dielectric used in plastic film chip capacitors, but it also has the lowest melting point, which makes it unsuitable for all phases of soldering. PEN is more resilient and resistant to the affects of excessive heat, but it is more expensive. PPS has the highest tolerance for heat, but is the most expensive plastic dielectric film because of its high heat tolerance. RTN notes that the reactive foil joining technology has not as of yet been applied to film chip capacitors, but suggests it is just a matter of time before it is tried.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The EPCOS and TDK merger is of great interest to me. The combined companies will be named TDK EP and have about 3.8 billion Euros in Revenue, with about 1.44 billion coming from EPCOS,and the larger majority coming from TDK. The overlap is impressive, especially in inductors, varistors, and (somewhat) in MLCC. The prominance of the TDK brand is noted, however, it is generally agreed that TDK expense on brand is substantially greater than that of EPCOS. The electrolytic and film product group is really the subject of my focus now. It seems like and odd overall addition to the high volume groupings of TDK's MLCC and Chip Varistors; but the Power Film Group of EPCOS may have been of great importance to TDK's level of interest due to its exposure to the renewable energy markets.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

TDK and EPCOS Merger

The TDK Components Group and EPCOS AG deal was announced in Germany as a merger, while announced in Japan as an TDK acquisition of EPCOS AG.

The combined companies reveal a powerhouse in passive components- This would be #1 in Inductors, #2 in MLCC, number 3 in DC Film.

The total picture looks interesting- ceramic capacitors, chip and wirewound inductors/cores; DC Film capacitors, AC film capacitors; power aluminum capacitors, SAW filters, and a really interesting position in LTCC worldwide.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tantalum Ores & Concentrates-Global Market Forecasts: 2008-2013

Tantalum Ores & Concentrates-Global Market Forecasts: 2008-2013

Summary and Conclusions:

Demand for tantalum in 2008 is growing for applications in superhard metals, while slowing down in the use in tantalum capacitors. The fundamental problem explored in this study is that the supply chain for tantalum capacitors is consuming only about 60% of their demand from the merchant market at this time. The remainder is being sourced from inventories from the supply chain upset in the 2000 and 2001 time period involving take or pay contracts, which moved the value up the supply chain.

The difference in 2008 is that tantalum consumption in superalloys still remains strong. Tantalum content in a nickel based superalloy is about 10% by weight for advanced alloys. This market is feeding into the aircraft manufacturing segment, oilwell services (downhole pump and sensors), and power generation equipment segments which are growing nicely in 2008 and again in 2009. An additional market that requires a more advanced type of tantalum for medical implants is also growing sharply in 2008. This is also a subset of the superhard metals segment of the market.

The profits in the superhard materials business over the past three years can handle a price increase for tantalum ores and engineered powders, while the capacitor manufacturers have struggled to break even as the fight against advanced high capacitance ceramics, which have encroached upon tantalum at every available opportunity.

In hardmetals, the important segment that has slowed down substantially is the segment that feeds into cemented carbide based cutting tools. Globally, this segment has too much exposure to automotive which heading into 3Q 2008 looks to be exceedingly weak, regardless of growth in demand in China and India.

So the ultimate outlook suggests that demand will continue to rise for tantalum at a more rapid rate as the capacitor manufacturer’s burn down inventories and demand from hardmetals continues to grow. Hardmetals will gain more importance in 2008 and support higher prices because they need the metal and their margins can afford price increases.

Tantalum sputtering is also viewed separately here, but also as a growth market. Demand for sputtering targets made from tantalum is also increasing. The sputtering technology can be applied to placing a hard coating on wear parts to make them last longer. Sputtering and chemical processes also produce optical coatings of tantalum. Tantalum is also used as a sputtering target to create resistance in advanced integrated passive devices and substrates.

Tantalum Ores & Concentrates-Global Market Forecasts: 2008-2013

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tantalum (Coltan) Prices May Skyrocket

The top global supplier of tantalum ore is Talison Minerals (Perth, Australia), which controls an estimated 52% of the world’s hard rock supply of tantalum. Talison Minerals suggests that an 80% increase in contract price may be necessary to continue to extract tantalum from the Wodgina mine in Wodgina, Australia at profitable levels. This is according to capacitor manufacturers in Japan, the United States and Europe who have been contacted by Talison. The new price for tantalum ore will take effect in January 2009 after the majority of their current ore supply contracts expire. The price change will create a ripple effect in the supply chain that will lead to higher prices for capacitor anode powder and tantalum lead wire. Capacitor manufacturers, who already have limited margins, will probably raise prices to maintain a healthy supply of this important capacitor product line.

Capacitor Manufacturers and Customers React

Tantalum capacitor manufacturers reacted to the news of an impending hike in tantalum ore prices with shock and disbelief. According to one primary tantalum capacitor manufacturer, such a price increase for the primary feedstock material used to manufacturer tantalum capacitor anodes and lead-attach wire will lead to higher tantalum capacitor prices across the board at a time when many can least afford it. Unfortunately the timing is bad, not only from the perspective of anemic economies, but also because manufacturers of alternative technologies, primarily the high capacitance ceramic multilayered chip capacitors, now have excess capacity to produce parts due to massive investments in increased economies of scale in CY 2007. But regardless, many customers in the wireless handset, computer, portable MP3 player, automotive and other end use market segments will have no choice but to pay more for their tantalum capacitors. This is because of the unique combination of high capacitance and small case size availability of the tantalum, especially in the specific area of 100 to 1,000 microfarads, where competitive alternatives are limited.

Rising Mining Costs Create New Economies

Tantalum ore prices “under contract” have not increased in price at the same rate as other non-noble metals over the past 24 months. And while an increase in tantalum ore prices from Australia can be ascertained by global trade statistics between 2006 and 2007, costs to extract the ore have risen substantially, especially for fuel and energy, (to mine and transport the ore and to process the ore through separation technology). Fuel costs alone account for up to 40% of tantalum mining, according to one primary source. And this, coupled with the devaluation of the Australian dollar, has made current contractual prices for tantalum ore uneconomical. Therefore, Talison is faced with having to almost double prices to extract the ore at a profit or face continued losses. The alternative is to stop mining tantalum and use the existing resources at Wodgina to mine Spodumene, (which is used in the production of Lithium). Ultimately, what this means is that tantalum metal powder suppliers to the capacitor industry are faced with rising costs at a time when their “profit before taxes” has dropped to zero (Cabot Corporation, the world’s largest tantalum powder producer in the world reported first quarter CY 2008 profits for their Supermetals business segment at $0.00). Therefore, any upward movement in ore price from Australia would have to be passed on to the capacitor manufacturers, who in turn will have to pass that cost onto the consumer. Thus, tantalum capacitor prices are sure to go up.

China Looks to Africa to Solve the Problem

In 2007, according to United Nations data, Chinese tantalum metal powder and wire producers increased their imports from Africa at the expense of their Australian resources. China noted a substantial increase in shipments of tantalum ore from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a year-over-year basis. American and German manufacturers of capacitor grade metal powder and wire do not have the luxury of sourcing ore from such countries since 2001/2002 when the United Nations determined that proceeds from tantalum ore were going to fund civil war. The ethical policies of the major American and German tantalum powder and wire producers, “do not allow for such ventures” anymore, according to one of the major vendors.

The Limited Tantalum Supply Chain

Tantalum capacitor manufacturers have a limited supply chain. The number of reliable mines producing tantalum on a consistent basis has been seriously limited since 2001, due to a moratorium on mining in the Congo (due to the scathing United Nations report that showed tantalum receipts were being used to fund civil war between the Mai Mai rebels and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda). Remaining mines in Canada, Brazil, and China are small, and cannot be scaled up in time to meet increased demand that would be created by the shuddering of Talison’s Wodgina mine. Additionally, the United States Defense Logistics Agency, which had historically supplied hundreds of thousands of pounds of surplus tantalum ores and concentrates to the commercial market, exhausted its captive supply in 2007. This has created a vacuum in the market at a time when costs to extract are rising at a rate that exceeds profitability.

Tantalum Wire and Mid-Level CV/g Power Supply Threatened

The two areas of the supply chain that will be most impacted by high ore prices will be tantalum wire and mid-level Capacitance Value Per Gram (CV/g) tantalum metal powders. Tantalum wire, which is used in tantalum capacitor production as the lead attach to the powder anode, will be impacted first. Primary capacitor manufacturer’s note that the world’s largest supplier of tantalum wire has noted to its customers that it is seriously planning on stopping wire production altogether by 2009. The mid-level tantalum powders from 30,000 to 52,000 CV/g will also be impacted, because these powders are already losing money, and any increase in ore prices will make these powders even more uneconomical to produce. Higher CV/g tantalum powders above 70,000 CV/g are less likely to be impacted because they already sell for a premium (above $500 per pound in Japan). These higher CV/g powders are used in ultra-small case size tantalum capacitors (P and J case) and in many of the conductive polymer capacitor anodes.

Reduced Supply, High Prices Probable

The majority of capacitor manufacturers interviewed for this article noted that the likelihood of them paying 80% more for tantalum powder and wire due to increased ore costs is not realistic. Since the economics for Talison most probably will not change between June and December of 2008, it becomes more likely that the amount of ore coming from Australia will be limited as Talison adjusts to a lower volume, higher value mining model. A greater reliance on stockpiles of ore that are already above ground will be the probable scenario. According to one primary source, these inventories will last for two years until identified resources can be turned into producing mines, (but this estimate may be over confident, as it is apparent from trade statistics that ore contained in stockpiles in the United States, Germany, and Belgium have already been drawn down substantially in 2007).

Many of these tantalum ore supplies from inventories will trade at the “spot price” for tantalum, which will undoubtedly move higher as “spot prices” tend to re-adjust in accordance with the suggested contractual price (Historically this has been the case).

The ultimate result of this materials trend will probably be higher prices for tantalum capacitors and (perhaps) some tantalum capacitor shortages in CY 2009, as was the case when similar events impacted the market in 2000 and 2001.

Alternative Technologies Cannot Cover the Spread

Capacitor manufacturers interviewed for this article also noted that alternative technologies to tantalum, such as high capacitance MLCC, niobium oxide and SMD aluminum electrolytic capacitors, only meet customer needs for a portion of the tantalum capacitor product portfolio.

For example, ceramic chip capacitor manufacturers have mass production capabilities up to 100 microfarads, while tantalum chips are sold up to 1,000 microfarads. SMD aluminum capacitors meet the capacitance/voltage requirements of tantalum, but are not as volumetrically efficient. Niobium oxide capacitors are a logical alternative, but the number of vendors is limited, and the product offering in terms of voltage and capacitance is also limited. Also, in certain circuits, only tantalum can be used (such as in certain wireless handset audio and video circuits where the piezo-electric effect of the ceramic makes tantalum the better choice).

Certainly high capacitance ceramics, SMD aluminum and niobium-oxide capacitor technologies will benefit from a higher cost structure in tantalum, but in many instances, the customer will have no choice, but to pay the expected higher prices for tantalum capacitors.

A Time for Management, not Panic

As one of the top manufacturer’s of tantalum capacitors noted for this story, now is not the time to panic, but to manage the transition effectively. The tantalum capacitor industry will undergo changes as a result of higher raw material costs being passed on to the consumer; however, this may be a change for the better. The segment may emerge as a smaller volume business, but one that is consistently profitable for the players.

As for higher tantalum ore costs, the results of this will invariably be more identified resources for tantalum ore, and the rapid conversion of those resources into producing mines. New tantalum resources in Egypt, Canada, Mozambique, Chile, China and Greenland hold great promise to fill in any gaps in the supply chain created by the current turn of events. But it takes substantial capital investment and a significant amount of time to convert resources into commercial mines that could fill in the vacuum created by a slowdown or shuddering of the Australian mines.

In conclusion, the short term future of tantalum appears to be headed for a higher price model। There are technical alternatives for manufacturers of electronic goods, but these alternatives do not fully cover all uses of tantalum, and in fact, any company that could have converted their slots to ceramic, aluminum or niobium alternatives would have done so already after the 2001 tantalum shortage. So, many of the current tantalum consumers will have no choice to pay higher prices for the tantalum capacitors they require for their decoupling and filtering solutions. Tantalum unit shipments may decline by a small percentage as alternative technology manufacturers identify this as an incentive to expand their existing portfolios to exploit the new vulnerability of tantalum. There is also the possibility that there will be spot shortages for certain types of tantalum capacitors due to the lack of available tantalum wire or powder, or a more rapid take down rate for ore inventories in the supply chain. How this unfolds over the coming months will depend upon the ability for key players to manage an uncertain supply chain, and through the application of experienced leadership for those who experienced similar changes in the tantalum market back in 2001.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Opportunities for Passive Components in Heavy Trucks and Tractors: 2007-2010

Opportunities for Passive Components in Heavy Trucks and Tractors: 2007-2010

Innovation and government regulations have rapidly expanded the transportation market for heavy-duty passive electronic components.

Global Class 7 and 8 Truck Production Statistics (On and Off-road):

Global production volumes for Class 7 and Class 8 trucks sharply expanded in the calendar year 2006, repeating a second calendar year of global expansion for trucks and tractors with a curb weight of 26,001 pounds or more.

Global production volumes for these Class 7 and 8 trucks totaled approximately 1.64 million units in 2006 (CY ending Dec. 31), which is about twice as many heavy duty trucks and tractors produced in 2003 (830,000 units estimated).

Production of On-Road Class 7 and 8 Trucks, which includes the massive production of Class 8 Long Haul Trucks, totaled approximately 1.3 million units worldwide in 2006.

Global production of Class 7 and 8 Trucks and Tractors for Off-Road applications totaled an estimated 340,000 units for 2006.

It is important to note that both on-road and off-road production of Class 7 and Class 8 trucks and tractors was at twice the historical rate for 2006.

Why Global Production for Class 7 and 8 Trucks Expanded So Rapidly:

Changing the engine design for Class 7 and 8 trucks has been one of the primary mandates of the heavy vehicle industry since 2000. These heavy vehicles, with an operating weight of 26,001 pounds or more, account for twice as much gasoline consumption as all other trucks (Class 3 to 7) combined.

Moreover, the heavy use of Class 8 trucks for hauling freight and fuel worldwide makes their cost-effectiveness a competitive advantage to the global supply chain for all products.

Thus, demand for heavy-duty trucks and tractors expanded with the rapid roll-out of new energy efficient vehicle designs with emission ratings designed to meet new U.S. Federal highway mandates implemented in 2007.

Engine Innovation for Class 7 and 8 Trucks:

The rapid expansion of global heavy truck and tractor production in 2005 and again in 2006 was initiated by new innovative engine designs that were more fuel efficient. These new engines were part of a greater plan of technology implementation that will continue to 2010. Heavy engine manufacturers for Class 7 and 8 trucks include Caterpillar, Cummins, International, Detroit Diesel, Mercedes, and Mack.

Because so much of the required industry goals set forth in mandates in 2000 centered around the drivetrain and the engine, the most dramatic innovations have been and will continue to be the electrification of the powertrain. Early success in heavy duty engine design affected growth in the large volume long haul trucking industries where it was designed to make the greatest environmental impact. Due to the use of these engines in like-industries, most notable the off-road truck and tractor business; as well as heavy duty ocean-going vessel engines and portable and stationary power generation equipment markets worldwide were affected as well.

The Large Class 7 and 8 On-Road Truck Manufacturers:

The fragmented nature of the Class 7 and 8 on-road truck business is quite apparent and there are a large number of global manufacturers. There is only very little crossover between manufacturers of on-road Class 8 trucks and the lighter Class 7 trucks. On-road class trucks are generally 26,001 pounds in curb weight; while the Class 7 trucks are primarily short haul delivery, municipality and government trucks with a curb weight between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds.

Major global manufacturers of heavy duty on-road Class 8 trucks include Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Mack, Peterbilt, and Volvo.

Major manufacturers of heavy duty Class 7 trucks, which includes transit busses, government vehicles, refuse trucks, fire trucks and concrete mixers, include manufacturers such as Oshkosh, E-One, KME, ALF, Rosebauer, Advance, Continental, Hell, Faun, Farid, and many others.

The Large Class 7 and 8 Off-Road Truck Manufacturers:

Major vendors of off-road heavy duty Class 7 and 8 trucks and tractors include Caterpillar, John Deere, Komatsu, Sumitomo, Samsung, JCB, Larsen and other smaller manufacturers around the globe.

The off-road truck and tractor business is truly a customer-driven market segment, where manufacturers offer application-specific work vehicles that are variations on tractors, backhoes, loaders, planers and pavers are used in a variety of end-use markets, including heavy construction, forestry, farming, mining, and oil and gas exploration.

Technology Goals in Class 7 and 8 Trucks to 2010:

In 2007 and 2008 it is anticipated that even more efficient drivetrains and powerplants will be developed for Class 7 and 8 trucks and this should drive demand for innovative passive component suppliers who can work closely with engineers on a variety of low volume production runs.

The primary motivating factor will be to reduce the current consumption of fuel in Class 7 and 8 trucks, which continues to be the primary focal point of heavy industry development.

This is because Class 7 and 8 vehicles consume twice as much gasoline as all other trucks >10,000 pounds combined.

The primary focus of these anticipated developments will be for capacitors, resistors and inductors used in auxiliary power systems and for the integrated communications modules.

The three primary 10-year goals of the Class 7 and 8 trucking industry that have been partially achieved to date by the adoption of electronic solutions are as follows:*

Reduce the Loss of Energy that is Wasted in the Drivetrain by 50%
  • Drivetrain Efficiency—Develop technology to reduce drivetrain energy losses from 9kWh to 6kWh by 2003, to 5 kWh by 2006, and to 4.5kWh by 2009. More efficient drivetrains are being developed for Class 7 and 8 trucks that employ hybrid electric drivetrain solutions.
    • Passive Components Used In Hybrid Electric DriveTrains Include DC Link Capacitors, Power Wirewound Inductors, and Wirewound Braking Resistors.
Reduce the Heat that is Wasted in the Engine by 41%
  • Waste Heat—Develop technology to reduce engine waste heat from 240kWh to 220kWh by 2002, to 175kWh by 2006, and to 141kWh by 2009
    • Passive Components consumed in the engine compartment in Class 7 and 8 trucks will be subjected to extremely high temperatures. For off-road Class 8 truck applications, these passive components will also be subjected to high vibration frequencies as well.
Reduce the Rolling Resistance by 40%
  • Rolling Resistance—Develop tire technology to reduce rolling resistance energy loss from 70kWh to 60kWh by 2003, to 50kWh by 2005, and to 40kWh by 2008 .
    • Rolling resistance is being reduced by the development of new tires with less drag; but their inflation is now being monitored by electronic tire pressure monitoring systems, which are capacitor, resistor and inductor intensive in their design.
*To reduce loss, the energy must be maintained in the system. This is achieved through innovation and new electronic technology.

Solutions Involving Capacitors, Resistors, Inductors:

The electronic solutions that are being implemented to help achieve the ambitious efficiency goals set forth by the heavy truck and tractor industry are as follows:

New Powerplant Designs:
  • One solution that is in the continued process of implementation is the development of a more efficient total systems design that employs energy load leveling in addition to the traditional method (Battery and internal engine). The goals have been ambitious and involve the development of technology to reduce auxiliary load energy losses from 15kWh to 12.5kWh by 2003, to 10kWh by 2006, and to 7.5kWh by 2009.
  • The electronic solution for auxiliary load development can be accomplished by using a battery or a capacitor. Batteries are better suited for supplying auxiliary power over a long time (30 minutes or more - lighting for example). Capacitors are best suited for burst power applications - microseconds to minutes such as for driving up a hill. The most noted application is the use of the DC link capacitor, which may be polypropylene, carbon or aluminum electrolytic in type. Other components employed here include power wirewound inductors and metal oxide varistors. Other high energy density films, such as Siloxane are being evaluated for DC link applications ate this time. PPS films are also being suggested for this application because of their high heat handling capabilities.

New Braking Systems:

The development of new braking systems for Class 7 and 8 On-road and Off-road trucks has been a priority of the industry since 2000, when 10-year goals were developed for reducing the rolling resistance while enhancing the overall safety and efficiency of braking a vehicle with a curb weight of 26,001 pounds or more. The primary goals set forth here were to develop and demonstrate electronic braking systems, rollover avoidance, and collision avoidance systems. Braking systems also had the added requirement of recouping braking energy.

Passive Components are consumed in the following systems related to these initiatives as follows:
  • Electronic Braking Systems require wirewound resistors for braking energy recoup; EDLC and power film capacitors for energy recoup. Most Class 7 and 8 trucks employ a nickel chromium wirewound solution for recouping braking energy. Capacitors have been used for this application in Japan.
  • Rollover Avoidance Systems employ dynamic actuation technology that uses piezo electric actuators and a variety of load and pressure sensors to sense the vehicles relative center of gravity and positioning.
  • Collision Avoidance Systems employ Infrared Detector Technology and standard radar circuits to sense the positioning and proximity of people, vehicles and the road itself. Electronic braking, rollover avoidance and collision avoidance systems also require MLCC, tantalum chips, aluminum, DC Film chips, thick film chip resistors, wirewound and metal film resistors, and ferrite bead inductors, and varistors for bypass, decoupling, filtering and circuit protection applications.

New Communications Systems:

The heavy truck and tractor industry has also developed vehicle intelligence and communication systems which includes the combination of multiple internal and external data into a core on-board computer to create a concentric system. It is primarily for self diagnostics and internal monitoring, but also to include external communications systems, GPS, satellite monitoring, refrigeration monitoring and many other industry specific products that would be targeted towards forestry, farming, boating and mining. Such concentric systems require components for harsh environments that would include high frequency ceramic capacitor and LTCC based antenna systems for high heat, extreme cold, and ultra-vibration frequencies.

The Significance of the Timeline for Implementation to 2010:

Major goals were set forth by the Class 7 and 8 Truck industries in 2000 (21st Century Truck Program) with respect to increasing engine efficiency over time. The major improvements were implemented well before the 2007 deadlines and this drove new truck demand in 2005 and 2006, as did higher fuel prices as customers looked to more fuel efficient designs for the future and to remain competitive within their respective industries; which was diverse - affecting a broad number of value-added and application specific industries around the globe, including freight, oil and gas exploration, mining, forestry, farming, and construction. More engine improvements are expected to be implemented by CY 2009, and the movement in the industry, especially in electrification of the power train and the recoup of previously lost energy have had a direct impact on the passive component industry, especially for power capacitors and braking resistors.

Growth Market Summary for Passive Components in Class 7 and 8 Trucks to 2010:

Growth prospects for the following for use in Class 7 and 8 trucks should be good to 2010:

  • DC Link/Rail Capacitors;
  • Wirewound Braking Resistors;
  • Wirewound Power Inductors
  • MOV Arresters
  • Infrared Detector Modules
  • LTCC Antenna Modules
  • High Frequency Passives For Internal Communications and Monitoring Packages.
Additional reading

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Developments in Passive Electronic Component Technology: 2007-2008


During the 2007 calendar year the investment in passive component technology (capacitors, resistors, and inductors) had some common themes. The general trend is to manufacture components with enhanced performance in smaller packages. In 2007 this was not limited to surface mount designs only, but included greater investments in expanding technology in axial and radial leaded designs as well. The greatest advancements continue to be in higher capacitance ceramic chip capacitors and in conductive polymer aluminum and tantalum electrolytic capacitors. Increasingly smaller part designs in AC film capacitors, DC film capacitors, chip resistors and chip inductors are also noted. Extensions of existing technology in high voltage axial and radial leaded passive components in the west are also noted to satisfy demand from the automotive and defense sectors.


Developments in Ceramic Capacitors

The continuing strategic theme in ceramic capacitors has been the investment in higher capacitance designs in X5R, X7R and Y5V dielectrics. Manufacturers of ceramic capacitors typically spend a higher percentage of overall revenues on research and development when compared to manufacturers of other dielectrics, and this continues to pay dividends by helping manufacturers expand their ceramic chip capacitor offerings into alternative dielectrics (tantalum and aluminum). The following table illustrates changes in ceramic capacitor technology in calendar year 2007 by major manufacturer and illustrates synergies between vendors through color coding of the chart. While the major developments have been the movement to higher capacitance chips, the expansion of specialty axial and radial leaded ceramic capacitor lines is noted among multiple manufacturers in the west. According to primary sources, customers in the automotive sector and defense sector have suggested they will continue to support production of axial and radial leaded designs as long as the manufacturers of these parts extend the technology into higher voltage and higher capacitance product offerings. In MLCC we see additional trends that point toward the continued development of ultra-small case sizes (primarily the 01005 case), and the continued development of higher voltage म्ल्क्क


Technology Developments in Aluminum, Tantalum, and Niobium Capacitors by Manufacturer: CY 2007

In electrolytic capacitors, which include aluminum electrolytic, tantalum electrolytic and niobium type capacitors, the primary strategic investment theme continues to be investments in conductive polymer cathodes that are designed to lower the equivalent series resistance in the finished capacitor design. The tactical developments in electrolytic capacitors mirrored that of ceramic capacitors in CY 2007, with emphasis on the development of higher voltage and higher capacitance radial leaded designs for the automotive and defense सेक्टर्स Spending on research and development for electrolytic capacitors is smaller than that of ceramic capacitors due to the higher revenue base for ceramic chips compared to that of electrolytic designs. Ceramic capacitor manufacturers typically have a larger revenue base and greater profitability when compared to electrolytic capacitor manufacturers, which frees up more dollars for research and development as a percentage of overall sales.

Paper and Plastic Capacitors:

Technology Developments in Paper and Plastic Capacitors by Manufacturer: CY 2007 (Metallized OPP and PET Film Capacitors)

The major technology initiative in paper and plastic capacitors has been the continued development of the DC link capacitor for hybrid electric vehicles using polypropylene dielectric films. In the metallized polyester film capacitor markets, the trend is towards miniaturization as well as the continued development of polypropylene based film dielectric capacitors in surface mount formats


Technology Developments in Discrete Resistors by Manufacturer: 2007 CY

In resistors, the high ruthenium price has lead many to look for an alternative thick or thin film metal solution based upon nickel or another base metal. Otherwise the continued trend is toward thin film integrated passive components and multi-chip resistor arrays. The technology developments in resistors are toward smaller case sizes, precision - including thin film chips, array development and then higher power handling and higher voltage handling capabilities of specific types of axial and radial resistor designs. Developments in axial and radial resistors, including higher voltages and greater precision, mirror developments in ceramic and tantalum capacitors, and these developments are being instigated by demand from the automotive and defense sectors


Technology Developments in Discrete Inductors by Manufacturer: 2007 CY

In 2007 FY there were some major developments in ultra-small chip size inductors, as well as some fascinating developments in the accuracy of wire winding on inductor cores. The technology advancements in discrete inductors are similar to developments in capacitors and resistors insomuch as the manufacturers are working to develop increasingly smaller case size parts in both multilayered and wirewound designs, with greater performance. In chip inductors, this is accomplished through the application of nano-technology to the ferrite materials used in their production, and in wirewound coils, smaller case sizes are accomplished using more accurate wire winding techniques and more compact पच्कगेस

Summary and Conclusions:

In 2007 we noted continuing developments in strategic initiatives, with emphasis upon higher capacitance ceramics, conductive polymer electrolytics, and case size miniaturization (apparent across multiple component types in capacitors, resistors and inductors)। The tactical developments in 2007 primarily centered upon the extension of voltage handling capabilities and greater product performance in the axial and radial leaded parts in ceramic capacitors, tantalum capacitors and in discrete resistors. In inductors, precision winding techniques have enabled higher performance in increasingly smaller case sizes.