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Film capacitor makers boosting R&D to expand SMD line

Suppliers of film capacitors are taking advantage of growth opportunities in the electronics, military and industrial sectors.

China’s film capacitor industry is building up the SMD line in a bid to increase penetration in the consumer electronics, communications, PC, military and industrial segments. The product matches the requirements for high capacity, low withstanding resistance and loss, and small form factor in these sectors.

Film capacitor

Shenzhen Topmay's X2-1-1 model has 0.0022 to 4.7µF capacitance, and ±5% J, ±10% K and ±20% M tolerance.

The SMD category currently represents only about 10 percent of the country’s total film capacitor output due to the high technology and investment involved. Fewer than 10 large suppliers with strong R&D and manufacturing capability are pursuing the segment.

While this is a reflection of the type’s global standing, which is 20 percent of aggregate film capacitor yield, the challenges domestic players face are not the same. This is because the SMD segment is mainly dominated by manufacturers from Japan, Italy and the US. Moreover, foreign control of the market extends to production and testing equipment, forcing China makers to turn to importation, which elevates costs. The requirement is about $1.5 million or even higher, which is not within the reach of most small and midsize operations. Only a handful of homegrown companies can provide the necessary apparatuses, and most of them are for back-end processes. These include taping, end-coating, cutting and plasma cleaning machines.

Nevertheless, enterprises are confident of efforts to pursue SMD variants and are, in fact, expecting local volume to increase by more than 15 percent this year and in 2012. In addition to boosting output, some are broadening selections by developing 0603 units. The current range in worldwide market is 0603 to 6560.

The emphasis on SMD is also in line with strengthening the film capacitor category itself, which is among the top three in the overall field. Ceramic and electrolytic types are the others. Their aggregate yield accounts for more than 90 percent of China’s capacitor production.

Film kinds are broadly used in analog circuits because they ensure minimum distortion during signal transmission. No polarity, high withstanding insulation, wide frequency response and low media loss are the variant’s advantages.

Noninductive CBB units are seen to replace electrolytic rivals in the low-capacitance DC-link segment. Besides the absence of acid, the former has a lower inner withstanding resistance and noise, and higher anti-surge capability and current per capacitance and voltage. A longer operating life in elevated frequency is also a plus. Aluminum electrolytic varieties have a life span of 5,000 to 10,000hr, while that of film kinds can reach 100,000hr.In terms of ensuring loss, the latter is at 0.8 to 1 percent in 1kHz and 1 percent in 10kHz, while the first can manage 3 percent at most in 1kHz. The drawback for film units is maximum capacity, which is 200µF compared with the thousand range for their rivals, impacting costs.

SMD types, meanwhile, also see a threat from multilayer ceramic counterparts. The latter has achieved various technological strides in recent years, the latest of which is in size and electrical features. Up to 0402 and even 0201 units have been realized, and at such levels offer high capacity, voltage and frequency at low power dissipation. This has extended MLCC use from household appliances, computer, communications and automotive industries to aviation, aerospace and electronic equipment. In effect, the type is gradually edging not only film but also tantalum kinds for applications with a capacitance requirement exceeding 1µF.

For makers, the latter rivalry presents both challenges and opportunities in terms of further product developments being pushed on the film category’s side. Makers such as Eaco Capacitor Inc. see no contest because of differing uses. The supplier even projects production expansion of its film products by 8 percent until next year.

Household appliances, computers, communication devices, power supplies and automotive products remain the key applications for the line. The last three absorb more than 60 percent of the country’s film capacitor output, a trend expected to persist in one or two years. In particular, the climbing growth levels of these markets are reasons for local makers’ optimism. The power supply and communications sectors are anticipated to push past 15 percent by year-end, with 3G fueling the second. Projections for the automotive segment, meanwhile, surpass 20 percent.

Suppliers are also looking to benefit from emerging uses such as energy-saving lights. The product requires six to eight film capacitors. The category is a huge market, especially with a demand forecast rise of 30 percent in the next two or three years.

As a result of all these factors, output has been on the rise. It exceeded the 30 billion units churned out in 2009 by more than 10 percent the following year, according to China Electronic News. The rate also applied to export volume in the past several years. This is anticipated to increase further to 15 to 20 percent by year-end, and persist until 2012.

At present, the country is the world’s largest manufacturer of the component with a more than 40 percent share of output. Fifty percent of yield is exported. East Asia, including Japan and South Korea, is the main destination, absorbing 60 percent of total overseas shipments.

Product gallery

Film capacitors

Film capacitors from China makers are classified by dielectric material or as electrolytic and plastic types.

PET, PP and PEN units constitute the electrolytic group, and Mylar, PP, PS and PC the plastic counterpart. In the latter set, PP and PS varieties lead in terms of performance but are comparatively priced higher. Metallized versions are also available, with MKP and MKT as options. These boast self-healing properties and are extensively used in circuits with high voltage, current and frequency.

PET versions have elevated dielectric constant, insulation strength, superior self-recovery, temperature stability and low cost, making them suitable for decoupling, blocking, bypassing and noise suppression in DC links.

PP kinds boast low dielectric loss and absorption, high insulation resistance and strength, and long-term stability. Because of these qualities, they are widely adopted in AC input filters, electronic ballasts, switching power supplies and industrial equipment.

PS types exhibit low dielectric loss and elevated insulation resistance but are expensive. These are used in upscale acoustics.

All film capacitors from China meet RoHS, UL, VDE, TÜV and CQC requirements.

Film is the key material in the manufacture of this capacitor type, representing more than 70 percent of total costs. Most makers source it locally for better price-to-performance ratio compared with imported versions.

China has nine manufacturers of electronic film, with 18 production lines combined, according to the China Electronics Industry Association. The top four are Anhui Tongfeng, Nanyang Technology, Ningbo Great Southeast Wan-xiang and Foshan Plastic.

Outlay for raw materials may climb by 5 percent, but suppliers said they will keep quotes at current levels to attract more orders. Last year, the cost increase was higher at 10 to 20 percent, forcing some companies to implement a 5 to 10 percent price markup.

Across categories, makers continue to conduct R&D to realize high capacitance, voltage and frequency, low dielectric loss, and small size. In particular, they plan to introduce more SMD metallized models until next year.

Companies have also been upgrading their processes. Eaco, for instance, has allocated about $1.5 million for such an undertaking, which includes improving its cleanroom and installing new equipment. Haimen Sancon Jetwell Electronics Co. Ltd plans to allot the same amount this year to purchase machinery for producing large film capacitors.

Hong Kong: Selections varied despite shift to other film capacitor types

Film capacitors continue to be part of Hong Kong components suppliers’ product range despite the R&D shift to higher-value categories such as aluminum electrolytic and chip types. Buyers of the first category will find inductive and metallized polyester, radial-leaded, and epoxy-coated PP and PS options.

The first comes in models with 0.00027 to 0.47mF capacitance range and from 50 to 1,200VDC rated voltage. Noninductive 100VDC types with straight or formed leads for high-density applications feature 0.001 to 0.033mF.

Metallized polyester units are offered in noninductive, extended foil and dip-coated, AC voltage rated, and box and mini box variants. Buyers will also find axial cycloidal and flat oval, stacked and uncoated stacked construction, and miniature versions.

Radial-leaded, epoxy-coated PP kinds are available in 0.00047 to 0.18mF capacitance in 100, 250, 400 and 630VDC. Metallized varieties come in axial cycloidal and oval form factors suitable for instruments and DC and AC circuits of household appliances, and as fractional frequency circuits of some acoustic systems. Noninductive class X2 models have interference suppression, 0.0022 to 1mF capacitance range and multiple safety approvals. Epoxy dip-coated, moisture-resistant units for high-frequency circuits such as S-curve compensating come with self-healing and low dissipation factor. Box-type variants, including double-sided and high-voltage versions, may also be sourced.

In the PS group, the selection consists of inductive axial and radial, welded-lead models in the high-precision 10 to 10,000pF capacitance range. Few suppliers, on the other hand, offer SMD components. The limited supply is led by uncoated metallized polyethylene naphthalate and polyhenylene sulfide film capacitors with a stacked construction.

There are at least 25 suppliers of film capacitors in Hong Kong. They cater to two major customer groups. The first consists of manufacturers, including large tech companies integrating the component into their products. These may have specific requirements regarding form factor, capacitance, tolerance, operating temperature range and other specifications that standard models sometimes do not meet.

Distributors, wholesalers and sales agents represent the other client base. They source mainly standard and popular models.

Delcon Industries Co. Ltd specializes in chip, radial lead, snap-in and conductive polymer types of aluminum electrolytic capacitors.

Suntan Technology Co. Ltd provides an array of axial and radial metallized polyester and PP film variants. Xebor Industrial Ltd offers polyester, metallized polyester, PP and metallized PP film types.

Film capacitor

Product gallery

Aid Electronics Corp.

Model: Film Capacitors Series
Description: 0.0022 to 0.015mF capacitance; ±5% J, ±10% K tolerance; 1,000 to 2,000VDC rated voltage; 0.15% maximum dissipation factor at 20kHz and 25 C; >30,000Mohm insulation resistance at C≤0.33μF, >10,000Mohm at C>0.33μF; -40 to 85 C operating temperature; noninductive; self-healing characteristics

Film capacitor

Haimen Sancon Jetwell Electronics Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: CBB81 PPS
MOQ: Negotiable
Delivery: 15 days
Description: 0.001 to 0.033μF capacitance; ±5% J, ±10% K tolerance; 1, 1.6, 2kV rated voltage; ≤0.0011kHz dissipation factor; -40 to 85 C operating temperature

Film capacitor

Suntan Technology Co. Ltd
(Hong Kong)

Model: TS04A
Description: Metallized polyester type, axial lead, cycloidal; 0.033 to 68mF capacitance; ±5% J, ±10% K tolerance; 100, 250, 400, 630VDC rated, 1.6Vr at 2s or 1.5Vr at 5s withstand voltage; -40 to 105 C operating temperature

Note: This article "Film capacitor makers boosting R&D to expand SMD line" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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