Thanks to continuous improvements in performance and miniaturization, which help reduce OEM costs, the global inductor market is forecast to reach $3.75 billion in 2019 up from $2.78 billion in 2014, according to Micromarket Monitor.
“The demand for surface mount and ceramic core inductor is continuously growing owing to the increased need of miniaturization without compromising the efficiency,” said Supradip Baul, analyst at MarketsandMarkets. “Technological advancements in the area of weight reduction, surface mounting, and miniaturization, along with rapid growth in consumer electronics, baked by the increased demand for smart gadgets are currently driving the inductor market.”
In addition to continuous improvements, buyers should expect continued price erosion in 2015. Price erosion is pegged at about four percent this year, driven by dynamics in copper pricing and availability, said Baul.
But pricing has been a challenge for inductor manufacturers. “The biggest challenge faced by inductor manufacturers last year was the disconnect between the pricing that the market demands and the increasing costs in the supply channels and manufacturing processes,” said Baul. “The variable cost in the manufacturing process have been steadily increasing. One of the largest contributor to the labor costs is the mandated wage increases that have been happening over the past seven or eight years in China,” he continued.
“In the current year, a big challenge is the lack of any forecast ability in the marketplace because it is very difficult for the manufacturers to forecast anything until they have a purchase order, which causes a lot of problems in the supply chain. The lead times for the large customers such as contract manufacturers could stretch from eight to 16 weeks as they order directly from the factory,” he added.
Key market segments include RF and telecommunications, power, automotive, industrial, military & defense and consumer electronics. One of the biggest segments driving RF inductor growth is increasing demand for wireless devices including routers, access points, gateways, and broadcasting systems, along with smartphones and tablets. However, consumer electronics and automotive applications are expected to be the biggest growth drivers over the forecast period, said Baul.
In addition, “inductors are widely used in power management, especially in switch mode power supply (SMPS) circuits that are used to store and release energy,” according to the report.
The inductor market is segmented by type – fixed, variable, coupled, surface mount, multilayer and power – as well as core type, including air core, ferromagnetic/ferrite core, ceramic core, toroidal core, and laminated core.
One of the biggest tech trends that passive component manufacturers have focused on over the past year, and continuing into 2015, is meeting demand for high-temperature parts in automotive and military applications. Vishay Intertechnology, for example, recently introduced three new inductors – the IHLP-4040DZ-8A, IHLP-2020CZ-51 and IHLP-2020CZ-5A - that deliver high-temperature operation for automotive applications.
The Vishay Dale automotive-grade IHLP-4040DZ-8A provides a wide range of inductance values from 0.47 µH to 47 µH. This low-profile, high-current inductor in a 4040 case size and 4.0-mm height delivers continuous operating temperature range to +180 °C and a frequency range up to 1 MHz. The AEC-Q200-qualified device is well suited as a space- and power-saving solution for voltage regulator modules (VRM), high-current noise filters, and DC/DC converters in high-temperature automotive applications. End products include engine and transmission control units, diesel injection drivers, entertainment and navigation systems, noise suppression for motors, windshield wipers, HID and LED lighting, heating and ventilation blowers, and power seats and mirrors.
Packaged in a 2020 case size with a 3-mm height, the Vishay Dale low-profile, high-current IHLP-2020CZ-51 and automotive-grade IHLP-2020CZ-5A inductors provide a wide range of inductance values from 0.22 µH to 15 µH and a high operating temperatures to +155 °C. With a frequency range up to 1 MHz, the devices also can be used for voltage regulator modules (VRM) and DC/DC converters in high-temperature commercial and automotive applications. More specifically, the IHLP-2020CZ-51 can be used in servers, notebooks, distributed power systems, and low-profile, high-current power supplies and point of load (POL) converters. The AEC-Q200-qualified IHLP-2020CZ-5A is optimized for engine and transmission control units, diesel injection drivers, entertainment and navigation systems, noise suppression for motors, windshield wipers, HID and LED lighting, heating and ventilation blowers, and power seats and mirrors.
Designed for RF military applications, Gowanda Electronics claims the first 0603/0805 QPL RF chip inductors with tin/lead solder terminations. The MLRF0603 and MLRF0805 series of RF surface-mount wirewound coil, ceramic core chip inductors recently achieved qualification to the military’s MIL-PRF-83446 specification. “These are the first series in the industry to attain Qualified Product List (QPL) status for this particular Department of Defense specification,” said Gowanda.
The MLRF0603 is QPL approved to MIL-PRF-83446/36B (with amendment 1 dated April 4, 2014) and provides inductance from 1.8 to 270 nH, Q min from 16 to 40, SRF MHz min from 600 to 6000, DCR ohms max from 0.07 to 1.78 and current rating DC mA from 195 to 1000. The MLRF0805 is qualified to MIL-PRF-83446/37A (with amendment 1 dated April 4, 2014) and provides inductance from 2.2 to 2200 nH, Q min from 15 to 65, SRF MHz min from 40 to 6000, DCR ohms max from 0.08 to 5.0 and current rating DC mA from 140 to 1000. Both series are designed for RF applications in military, aerospace and defense communities. This includes use in communication, guidance and security applications, as well as in radar, test & evaluation and special mission applications. These series can also be used in other high frequency and high-reliability applications.
Gowanda also recently launched five new QPL-approved RF inductor “M” series for military applications, expanding the number of MIL-PRF-15305 MS part numbers offered by the company. The new “M” series includes the MLRF19M, MLRF21M, MLRF22M, MLRF24M and MLRF28M. The performance range for the devices include inductance from 0.47 to 10,000 uH, Q min from 35 to 95, SRF MHz min from 0.95 to 300, DCR ohms max from 0.06 to 72 and current rating mA DC from 47 to 2400. The RF through-hole, wirewound, molded inductors are designed for RF applications in military, aerospace and defense communities.
In the power segment, Bourns expanded its semi-shielded power inductor market with the introduction of Model SRN4012T, extending the line to 15 SRN models with a wide selection of size and inductance options. Package size options range from 2 x 1.6 to 8 x 8 mm footprints and 1 to 4.5 mm heights. Inductance values range from 0.47 to 470 µH.
The new Model SRN4012T series inductors offer a 1.2-mm low profile, 0.47-22 μH inductance range and 3.2 A rated current. These devices are well-suited for DC/DC converters, which provide power management to mobile electronic devices, computers, data storage and consumer electronics. It is also optimized to meet the requirements of a wide variety of industrial applications that include LED lighting, control circuits and GPS.
Also in the power segment, Coilcraft introduced new shielded power inductors with low DC resistance and excellent current handling. The MLC75xx Series of high-current power inductors offer Isat ratings up to 59.2 amps and DC resistance down to 1.2 mOhms for greater efficiency. Target applications include VRM/VRD designs and other applications with occasional overcurrent requirements, said Coilcraft. The surface-mount devices measure 7.0 X 7.5 mm, with a maximum height of 4.2 mm. The series is offered in seven inductance values ranging from 0.10 to 2.17 µH. They feature RoHS compliant tin-silver (96.5/3.5) over copper terminations and offer a maximum reflow temperature of 260°C.