There were many grand events that occurred at the end of 2009 that shook me a bit; primarily the loss of so much engineering know-how for capacitor dielectrics in the United States. There was much to be said about cost cutting and saving money in the electronics industry in 2009, and I fully appreciate that and respect it- the needs of the many do in fact outweigh the needs of the few- but the loss of engineering knowledge for dielectrics is concerning and should be duly noted. In one year I have seen about 200 key personnel in the US dielectric materials business out of work because of the closing of engineering operations in tantalum, ceramic, aluminum and polypropylene dielectrics.
The irony here is that other countries, especially the BRIC emerging economies, are trying so hard to elevate themselves up the technology scale to achieve the standards set by US materials manufacturers half a century ago. The idling and disbandment of that knowledge is without merit; and suggests a significant lack of thought leadership and truly questions the validity of wisdom of politicians in New York and Tennessee.
The closing of at least two key dielectric materials processing centers in the United States should have been avoided by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 as these materials (polypropylene and aluminum sheet) feed directly into the supply chain for capacitors used as critical elements in a growing renewable energy solution for the United States.
Where is the wisdom in that? Why does South Carolina and Maine support and attract $50 Million in similar businesses under the ARRA while New York and Maine let the same technology go idle (2010 Update: GE buys Shreev Capacitor in India and Closes Fort Edward)? The best I can do from this position is let those that lost jobs in New York and Tennessee know, they MAY have jobs available in South Carolina and Vermont; aside from any senator or congressman waking and realizing that the closing of certain plants in this country deprives the nation of critical technology platforms that are supposed to be nurtured and protected under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. Such actions are counterintuitive and point to a lack of qualified understanding at multiple levels. People in this industry should take note and read the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 especially if you represent the state, local or federal government; large industry dedicated to “Smart Grid” solutions; or the local Unions that are supposed to provide the thought leadership that should prevent such loss in critical technology platforms.
At least the Union can help them find jobs in states with progressive and knowledgeable leadership. Try South Carolina for example, they love capacitors in Greenville (next year this time it will be hard to walk down the street in Greenville without overhearing a conversation about something to do with capacitors).
Additional Resources: (1) Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Supply To The Capacitor Industry: 2007-2014 Global Market Outlook ISBN # 1-893211-82-7 (2007) (2) CAPACITOR FOIL: Global Market Outlook: 2008- 2013 ISBN # 0-929717-85-6 (2008) (3) (1) Ceramic Dielectric Materials: World Markets, Technologies & Opportunities: 2008-2013 ISBN # 0-929717-76-7 (2008) (4) TANTALUM: Global Market Outlook: 2008-2013 ISBN # 0-929717-81-3 (2008) (5) Polypropylene Supply To The Capacitor Industry: 2007-2014 Global Market Outlook ISBN # 1-893211-83-5 (2007)