These capacitors are used in electronic equipment across all industries including numerous IOT applications, industrial, automotive, communication and medical. Equipment is requiring more and more capacitors and the significant rise in demand for these electronics is now putting a strain on the supply, with demand far outstripping capacity. The recent shortages of MLCC in 2016/7 are not showing any signs of relief, with lead-times often 52+weeks and with Manufacturers having little, or no plans, to increase capacity, many industry experts are expecting this to last in 2020 and beyond.

Does this impact ALL MLCCs?

Whilst the supply issue doesn't impact every MLCC product, it does impact a large amount the below:

Automotive Qualified SMD >0603 size due to no longer being manufactured
Commodity SMD <0603 due to high demand
Hi Capacitance >=1uF SMD High Voltage =>100V

As customer search for alternatives in these categories, those outside the spec are beginning to become scarce also.

Looking for an alternative to MLCCs for new designs?

For those creating new designs now is the right time to look at alternatives to MLCCs for design-ins. Polymer Capacitors aren’t a new technology but as MLCCs become less feasible, are becoming a popular alternative.

What are Polymer Capacitors?

Polymer Electrolytic Capacitors are a hybrid of either Tantalum or Aluminium & highly conductive Polymer, used as the cathode. Now being offered by most major Capacitor manufacturers, in Surface mount or Radial leaded versions, this offers an alternative to MLCC which has some superior features.

What are the differences between Polymer Capacitors and MLCCs?

Each series and type of Polymer offers a series of pros and cons which have to be considered when designing in. Some typical differences include:

  • Enhanced performance to help reduction in board space & placement
  • Improved Temperature and humidity stability
  • Improved Voltage Stability
  • Extended life, reliability & safety
  • Low ESR, making ideal for applications where acoustic noise is an issue.
  • In a number of cases will result in lower overall BOM cost.
  • Ability to offer alternative to larger case sizes which due to miniaturisation are unlikely to be invested in moving forward by Manufacturers
  • Stable and short leadtime

Find the Polymer Capacitor for you:

Although Polymers will not be an option for the full range of MLCC products, but still viable option for many applications.

RS and DesignSpark are pleased to offer you links to a variety of data and tools from Manufacturers sources to help identify where your design can use Polymer capacitors and best type for your application.

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Click onto the links below to find out more on this subject:

Polymer Capacitors

Understanding polymer and Hybrid capacitors

Aluminium electrolytic vs aluminium polymer capacitor and how its benefits are used properly

Suffering from ESR fluctuations due to temperature? Maybe it’s time to polymerise

Murata’s ECAS series polymer-type aluminium electrolytic capacitor

Polymer vs High cap MLCC?