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Speaking Up for Thin-Film Chip Resistors

Thick-film chip resistors have been the preferred low-cost, surface-mounted design (SMD) solution since the introduction of surface-mount technology. In the past, thin-film resistive technology has been reserved for precision applications where noise, stability, or temperature has significant adverse effects on a design.

However, the cost difference between thick-film and thin-film has forced engineers to compromise on the performance of their designs to keep costs down or to obtain the desired performance at a very high cost.

Also, with advances in automotive markets and the industrial expansion of developing countries like China, sulfur sulfide is becoming a major area of concern for long-term reliability. Low-cost thick-film chip resistors are porous and very susceptible to silver sulfide.

Manufacturers have dealt with this issue by introducing products with higher palladium content. This solution improves the long-term reliability of the parts, but this security comes with a higher cost and without a guarantee that sulfur will not cause the part to fail.

Recently, advances in high-speed sputtering techniques and looser parameters have allowed certain manufacturers, like {complink 12878|Stackpole Electronics Inc.}, to offer low-cost thin-film alternatives. Thin-film provides inherent advantages, including low noise, more stability, and being impervious to sulfur.

Some of these parts also allow you to go down a case size and obtain the same power rating. The only place these parts don't belong is in humid environments. Given these advantages, why wouldn't someone be attracted to this technology?

2 comments on “Speaking Up for Thin-Film Chip Resistors

  1. DataCrunch
    December 3, 2010

    Hi Brian, interesting points you raise and it seems that many, if not all of the barriers to entry for thin-film chip products have been eliminated.  The main and maybe only reason I could see as to why thick-chip is still more popular is the initial outlay of capital required by the manufacturer to implement a thin-chip process.  Also, the manufacturer may have to have the necessary real estate within the facility to include a thin-chip process, and if not may have to do a build-out.  It would make sense that thin-chip resistors would become the norm based on all the advantages and now lower manufacturing costs.  Looks like a winner to me and I would expect in the long run, they will become the norm.

  2. maou_villaflores
    December 31, 2010

    Brian,I think in the long-run (2-3 yrs from now) thin-chips will be used in most electronic products. If you observed the technological trends things are getting slimmer which answered the space issue of the consumers.

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