Where have all the common value capacitors gone?

You may have noticed over the course of the past few months that common value capacitors (0.1uF, 1.0uF, 2.2uF, 4.7uF etc.) in case sizes ranging from 0402 and up have become exceedingly difficult to locate stock of. You may have been impacted by this in terms of us suggesting or requesting substitutes for parts that may be on your builds due to sourcing issues after an order has been placed.

In short, we are in the middle of a global capacitor shortage the likes of which the electronics manufacturing industry has not experienced since 2008…and this time the market for these parts is even worse. There are multiple causes behind the current situation, but the two biggest contributors are supply and demand.

On the supply end, manufacturers have been building capacitors under constant cost-down pressure for some time. So much so that in a recent whitepaper, TTI noted that although production of MLCC’s has doubled since the “Great Recession” the market value has remained the same. There is no more profit left in production of these parts for manufacturers, they have no plans to increase their production capacity, and in some cases are pulling out of manufacturing these common value commodity capacitors all together and shifting towards higher voltage parts that have more demand in markets that offer higher profitability. Manufacturers have ended the special volume pricing that they once offered to large scale vendors, and reels of parts that may have sold a year and half ago for $10 now have a market value in excess of $800 in some cases.

While the above conditions have unfolded on the supply end, the demand for these parts has sky rocketed. Consumer products, especially affordable electronically loaded automobiles have driven demand as entry-level vehicles incorporate more and more on-board sensors (lane assist, vision, touch screens etc.) and affordable IoT devices being manufactured by large companies gobble up stock of these parts at an alarming rate. This has forced vendors to go into allocation where they limit sales of these types of parts to any single customer and prices continue to sky rocket.

If at all possible, we suggest researching less common values that might be acceptable for use in you designs. If a 1uF capacitor with a 20% tolerance has been designed into your product, perhaps consider changing to a less common value with a tighter tolerance that may maintain design functionality. Unfortunately expect the current situation to continue and possibly worsen into 2019, so the difficulties are only beginning…

A big thanks to Brett Babilonia at Worthington Assembly for authoring this post. 

New Feature: Virtual Prototyping


One of our biggest missions at CircuitHub is to find ways to prevent manufacturing mistakes before boards go into production. The more issues that we can prevent before an order is placed, the smoother manufacturing will go, saving you both precious time and money. Our newest virtual prototyping feature aims to tackle just that, by showing you exactly how the parts you've selected will fit on your board before you go to place an order! 


Confirm things are right before getting to the order phase

The feature overlays part packages both on your BOM as well as on the board tab of your projects. This adds extra visual confirmation to make sure you have the right footprint for the best placement. If the package being displayed for the part you've selected does not fit on the footprint there it is very likely that it will not fit when we go to place the physical part on your board. We highly recommend looking into any of these parts before going to placing an order. 

How it Works


The part package being overlaid is based on the actual physical description of the selected part. For the same footprint, the package may or may not  be overlaid depending on whether we have the information for the selected part.
We do not have package information for all parts just yet, but over time as we accumulate more data more part packages will be displayed. 

We'd love to know your feedback on this new feature so let us know what you think!



Getting your first quote on CircuitHub


First off, let's start with the basics....what is CircuitHub? To put it simply we provide a PCB assembly service that makes it easy to get your electronics made, whether you are prototyping or ready to scale to thousands of units.  On CircuitHub you can upload your EDA design files, get a live interactive quote, and order fully assembled circuit boards. If you are an electrical engineer looking for a new solution to your pcb manufacturing and assembly needs, then CircuitHub might be right for you!

Now let's get started with your first CircuitHub project!

1. Upload your EDA Files








The very first step to getting a quote on CircuitHub is to create a new project.  Do this simply by clicking on the "New" button under your projects section on your CircuitHub dashboard. 


Next you'll need to upload your original EDA design files. In order to move forward from this step you must provide all of the files specified for the design tool you are using. We cannot accept Gerber files for upload and quoting. Some more information about why can be found here. At the moment we support Altium (and its derivatives), Eagle and KiCAD.  We do eventually plan to support all major design tools, but unfortunately don't have a timeline on that just yet. 


Once you have successfully uploaded all of the required files, name your project and click Continue to import your project. 

2. Import Project




After you click Continue your project begins the import process during which CircuitHub automatically extracts all of the important information out of your design files. This process may take a few minutes so please be patient. However, if this seems to be taking an absurd length of time ( more than 10 min) please contact us. 

3. Reconcile Project





In order to see your quote you first have to reconcile you project.  To do so, click on the BOM lines highlighted in red and search for a part number that is appropriate for that BOM line.  When you imported your project CircuitHub will have attempted to automatically reconcile each BOM line to a concrete part number. Some details on how to specify parts in your EDA tool so that they can be automatically reconciled can be found here. Even if a part was automatically reconciled by CircuitHub, please make sure to check each part before ordering to ensure that it is the correct one. 

If there is a part that is not already in the CircuitHub database or a part that is out of stock that you know of an alternative source you can learn how to add it here



Once all of your parts have been reconciled you will receive a quote!

4. Quote and Order!




Using the slider bars you can dynamically check pricing depending on the number of units and lead time you want. Once you have decided on the number of boards and the ship date you can click on "Order Now" to fill in all of your shipping and payment details to complete the order. After the order is placed you will have access to an order page with all of your order details as well as an interface that allows you to directly communicate any issues that may come up with our manufacturing team. 

If you have any other questions about using CircuitHub we recommend checking out our Help Center or feel free to reach out to us at support@circuithub.com

Happy Designing!


New Feature: Specify Impedance Control Requirements


You can now specify impedance control requirements which will automatically be quoted. You can find the impedance control section on the specifications section of your board tab.


Previously we asked you to enter any impedance requirements in the "add custom requirements" section. However, with our new feature, you no longer wait for your project to be manually quoted if you just have impedance control requirements.


Some more detailed information on how to specify impedance control can be found here:
http://help.circuithub.com/knowledge_base/topics/how-should-i-specify-impedance-control


CircuitHub selected as a 2016 Cool Vendor by Gartner


We're excited to announce that CircuitHub was selected as a Cool Vendor in the Gartner Cool Vendors in Embedded Software and Systems, 2016 report published April 19, 2016 by analysts Ganesh Ramamoorthy, Maritess Sobejana, and Anshul Gupta of Gartner, Inc.

"IoT hardware makers face the challenge of having to secure manufacturing capacity for their low-volume requirements from reputed electronic manufacturing services companies. Meanwhile, consumers are concerned about the lack of support for multiple connectivity, network standards, and hardware and software platforms in these products. 
Therefore, low-volume manufacturing of prototypes; secure and high-quality hardware and software; and seamless connectivity to heterogeneous hardware, software and network platforms have become the need of the hour for the electronics industry."—Gartner
We're honored to have been recognized as a company which is revolutionizing the way IoT hardware will be manufactured in the future and accelerate the growth of IoT hardware startups.

Gartner clients can download the complete 2016 Cool Vendors in Embedded Software and Systems report here.