Ruthenium and Other Metals for High-Volume Passive Electronic Components: Examining the Supply Chain

Originally posted on TTI MarketEye blog

By Dennis M. Zogbi

According to our current estimates, the global value of primary materials consumed as dielectrics, electrodes and terminations in the worldwide fixed passive electronic component industry stands at USD$12 billion in 2021.

Capacitors drive 70 percent of the demand for these materials in passive components, with the remaining 30 percent going to resistors, magnetics, sensors and circuit protection.

Feedstocks for capacitors include metals, ceramics, plastics and carbon – all of which begin in the form of ores or resins and are then transformed into powders, pastes and sheets before being consumed as finished capacitors. These components are used for bypass, decoupling, filtering and burst power circuits in modern electronics.

With trillions of pieces produced each year, materials consumption is moderate in terms of volume, but extremely consistent and profitable for miners and chemicals processing companies.

Technology-Driven Nanomaterials for Components

In an attempt to achieve desired surface area and capacitance, manufacturers use one of three methods: stacking, winding or pressing to maximize passive component functionality for modern portability in electronics.  The active surface area of the materials described is created by advanced-engineered raw materials processing which includes primarily milling, etching, and metallizing.

Raw materials impact the overall costs to produce passive electronic components. In fact, dielectric materials, electrode materials and termination materials represent the largest variable cost associated with the production of electronic components. Any fluctuation in price or availability for these key feedstocks can have a negative impact on profit margins for electronic component producers, but seldom does a component manufacturer (or their customers in OEM and EMS output) have long term visibility on the various sub-levels of the supply chain.

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