Tantalum Capacitors: Lead-Times Remain in Check For The First Time All Year

Lead times for tantalum capacitors as a whole remained unchanged for the first time in September 2010 on a month-to-month basis; although at 34.6 weeks, supply of the high capacitance, small case size component remains elusive. During the month of September, lead times for ultra-small A case tantalum chip capacitors actually declined for the first time all year (from 24 to 23 weeks); however, this was offset by an increase in lead-times for conductive polymer type tantalum chips (lead times increased mostly in the EIA designated B case and the D case size configurations) which stretched out from 37 to 38 weeks.

Tantalum Capacitors: A Closer Look At Changing Lead Times: 2010

The molded chip D and B case size tantalum chip capacitors are leading the list of hard to get passive components in August 2010, with the large D case size chips typically consumed in the global computer and telecommunications infrastructure markets. The B case shortage is impacting both the standard manganese and the newer conductive polymer type tantalum chip capacitors. B case size chips are consumed in a variety of global markets, including consumer electronics (game consoles, LAN networks and digital cameras), and in the portable notebook and netbook computer markets.

The chart below illustrates the movement in the market as tantalum materials supply tightened, and demand increased from many end-markets simultaneously, including computer, telecom, networking and consumer AV markets. Smaller tantalum capacitors, such as the A case and low profile versions use less tantalum metal per part, and have shorter lead times. Lead times for tantalum capacitors are at the highest point in their 45 year history.

Tantalum Capacitor Lead Times By Configuration and Case Size Through August 2010

Tantalum Capacitor Lead Times By Configuration and Case Size Through August 2010

Graph 3.1: Extending lead times for tantalum capacitors are revealing. Since the problem is primarily raw material related, the entire product line is affected, with all product lines shifting upward except for the smallest parts, which consume the smallest amount of tantalum metal. The other interesting factor is that the B case size chip in both manganese and conductive polymer type are in very short supply.

Additional Resources: (1) Tantalum Capacitors: World Markets, Technologies & Opportunities: 2010-2015 ISBN # 1-893211-11-8 (© April 2010) (2) TANTALUM: Global Market Outlook: 2008-2013 ISBN # 0-929717-81-3 (2008)