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Electronics Production | September 01, 2010

Capacitors see surging demand

Capacitors, like much of the electronics component market, have seen a surge in demand. Unfortunately, this demand has been tempered by long lead times, rising prices and a shortage of parts in the semiconductor industry, states market researcher iSuppli.
"Despite their tiny size and minuscule price—commonly a fraction of a cent—capacitors serve as a bellwether for demand trends in technology", said Rick Pierson, senior analyst at iSuppli. "This is because capacitors are extensively used in nearly all electronic products. For example, Apple’s iPad contains 702 capacitors, while the iPhone 4 has 469."

While demand for aluminum capacitors remains very high, so do lead times and high prices. The average lead time is in the 18-week range (well beyond the normal 10 to 12 weeks), iSuppli continues. Unfortunately, the market researcher also predicts that there won’t be any real improvement until the end of 4Q/2010. An additional strain is the fact that aluminium foil is in short supply too.

Ceramic capacitors meanwhile average an 18-week lead time; some products are even put on allocation. For tantalum capacitors, the market researcher sees no real short-term solution when it comes to supply issues and manufacturers have been conservative in adding capacity. Lead times—some stretch to 20 weeks and more—are fuelled by supply chain issues for tantalum ore.

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