Passive Component Conference in Shenzhen Results in Vibrant Discussion on Rare Earth and Related Dielectric Materials

Dennis Zogbi (R) of Passive Component Industry Magazine discusses the changing regulations in China for overvoltage protection with CEO Paul Tsar (shaking hands), and Sandy Chen of Bencent, a manufacturer of gas discharge tubes and thyristors located in Northern Shenzhen. Photo Courtesy of Elexcon Seminars, Shenzhen, China.

The Elexcon Passive Component Conference held in Shenzhen resulted in a vibrant multi-language discussion on the subject of Chinese production and consumption of passive electronic components.

The majority of the conference was dedicated to ceramics where consumption is the greatest in China and which is dominated by Japanese manufacturers, who also attended and presented at the conference. The conference organizers developed a venue that shed light on a complete Chinese supply chain for the ceramic capacitor industry, including domestically produced additives and advanced barium titanates and compositions for high capacitance MLCC production.

The mixture of attendees and presenters at the conference suggested an active, vibrant market for materials and manufacturing equipment, with some excellent discussions on the dielectrics, metals, kilns, furnaces, additives, termination dipping and plastic reel supply chain. The nature of the conversations and discussions centered on high capacitance MLCC and the materials for making the same; although it was apparent for the large OEMs and CEMs in attendance that the supply chain for tantalum was a concern for 2010. Even though the conference was dominated by presentations dedicated to the ceramic capacitor industry, audience questions invariably switched to double layer carbon supercapacitors, where attendants were fascinated with the recent bus contracts in China involving supercapacitor solutions.

In terms of component technology presenters, Murata, TDK and Taiyo Yuden each discussed variations on their core ceramic technology. Murata presented piezoelectric ceramics for automotive and audio applications, with the noted actuator applications for fuel injection an interesting and hot market segment among many vendors into the automotive space. TDK discussed their grand vision of “Super Eco Love” as it related to manufacturing electronic components and subassemblies; exacting that China seems genuinely interested in becoming less reliant on fossil fuels; and this seemed on the mind of all presenters, but was a focal of the TDK presentation, which was also keen to remind the audience that they had just merged with EPCOS AG to form the largest passive component manufacturer in the world. Taiyo Yuden focused on their LTCC antenna module technology and the myriad of emerging applications for communication technology in consumer audio and video imaging equipment.

Tyco Electronics also presented an excellent paper on the transition of USB port technology to a more stringent set of standards, and increasing the overvoltage and overcurrent circuit protection component requirements in ultra-small case sizes for applications in various USB connectors in multiple end-products in multiple industries. Tyco also noted the increased technical hurdles faced in maximizing signal integrity while not sacrificing circuit protection. The most fascinating presentation and that with the greatest audience response from attendees came from Bencent Electronics, which detailed their production of gas discharge tube arresters and thyristor components for telecom, datacom and video communications customers in China.

The most interesting portion of the presentation was how CEO Paul Tsar was working with Chinese government to establish Chinese standards for circuit protection similar to the standards in place today in the United States (UL) and Europe (IEC); but also developing specifications similar to the Rural Electrification Code as well as separate specifications for Railway Detection and Control Systems. The global ramifications and the potential impact on the global circuit protection component market was not lost on the audience, who asked many questions. Bencent also focused on their dramatic move toward green manufacturing and a shift toward cost saving and energy saving initiatives throughout the plant. As CEO Paul Tsar noted- “I absolutely love circuit protection. It is a complex challenge-but let the storm come more violently, Bencent is here to provide protection for sensitive electronics.”

A plant tour of the Bencent factory in Shenzhen revealed production of surface mount and multi-terminal gas discharge tubes; as well as a separate operation for thyristors. The company hads made a major investment in overvoltage test and measurement equipment as well as ceramic to metal materials processing; component research and development; and mass production.

Additional Resources: (1) Raw Material Usage and Supply Markets in The Passive Component Industry (Shenzhen PRC 2009)
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