Demand models evolve for MLCCs
Industrial, medical, and military demand for high-quality, high-voltage multilayer ceramic (MLCC) capacitors has been hit hard by a shift in production from the world’s largest MLCC manufacturers, who are focusing on a seemingly insatiable demand for smaller voltages and lower. – and in a way – less efficient MLCCs. This demand has been fueled by the global growth of 5G networks and the continued advancement of smartphones and mobile devices that consume significantly more MLCCs per device.
As major manufacturers move away from high-voltage, high-quality MLCCs used by industry and military, OEMs are experiencing significant delays in MLCCs of up to six months. The magnitude of the supply shortage compromises product release schedules, industrial market share, and potentially even military readiness.
“It’s a pretty massive carrot hanging down in front of the major MLCC manufacturers,” said Scott Horton, vice president of Johanson Technology, a 40-year-old supplier of high-voltage ceramic multilayer capacitors based in Camarillo, Calif. “Considering that a high-end smartphone today may require significantly more MLCCs in a single device compared to a similar phone just a few years ago, the current demand for smaller MLCCs and less powerful is unlike anything on the market. . “
Following a slowdown in consumer demand for capacitors in 2019, many OEMs and distributors were left with excess inventory. As a result, those same OEMs and distributors were reluctant to order additional inventory in 2020. Now, as the market grows, demand for MLCC is also increasing despite a very low inventory of capacitors. This further exacerbates the shortage of larger high voltage, high Q MLCCs as some manufacturers have focused their production on smaller / lower voltage MLCCs during this time.
Now both ends of the market are jostling for restocking, including the big electronics distributors. It is also largely an Asian manufacture of MLCCs supporting telecommunications and mobile device operations which are also based in Asia, making it even more urgent to meet industrial MLCC supply needs on the market. western markets.
“There is a ripple effect on the industrial and military market sector that is not really fully understood,” said Horton. “While a shortage of electronics used to make consumer products such as smartphones and automobiles is national news, the lack of supply of larger, higher voltage MLCCs for industrial and military applications is generally underestimated. However, it will continue to overwrite business customers and possibly end users until it is resolved. “
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