How in­duc­tors en­able minia­tur­i­sa­tion in elec­tronic de­vices

Faster, cheaper and lighter elec­tronic de­vices con­tinue to fuel the need for smaller elec­tronic com­po­nents. Be­cause of this need for minia­tur­i­sa­tion, de­sign­ers are now de­vel­op­ing ul­tra­small in­duc­tors that are ef­fi­cient and en­hance the life of elec­tronic p

Electronics Bazaar - - Contents - By Shruti Mishra

An in­duc­tor is a ba­sic, pas­sive elec­tronic com­po­nent that caters to many sec­tors in­clud­ing con­sumer elec­tron­ics, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, mil­i­tary and au­to­mo­biles. In­duc­tors are widely used for high power ap­pli­ca­tions, noise sup­pres­sion, sig­nal pro­cess­ing and volt­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion. As it is im­pos­si­ble for a sin­gle in­duc­tor to per­form all th­ese func­tions, var­i­ous types of in­duc­tors are de­signed and used for th­ese di­verse ap­pli­ca­tions.

A choke is a type of in­duc­tor that is used for chok­ing off or block­ing high fre­quency or al­ter­nat­ing cur­rent (AC) from en­ter­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where low fre­quency or di­rect cur­rent (DC) is re­quired. Coils of a re­lay also act as an in­duc­tor and con­trol the flow of cur­rent in it. In­duc­tors, when used in com­bi­na­tion with ca­pac­i­tors, act as a fil­ter and sep­a­rate the sig­nals of dif­fer­ent fre­quen­cies. That helps to make tuned cir­cuits, which are used in ra­dio and TV broad­cast­ing. Other types of in­duc­tors in­clude trans­form­ers, fer­rite beads and power in­duc­tors.

Tech­no­log­i­cal advancements

The shrink­ing moth­er­boards of the next gen­er­a­tion elec­tronic de­vices are push­ing in­duc­tor mak­ers to weave im­proved per­for­mances into ever-tinier pack­ages. Most tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ments in in­duc­tors th­ese days are hap­pen­ing around size re­duc­tion and are yield­ing some im­pres­sive re­sults.

One of them is the thick- or thin-film con­struc­tion tech­nique that re­places the age old cop­per wire wind­ing that was ear­lier used as an in­duc­tor. This tech­nique not only sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces the phys­i­cal size and weight of in­duc­tors but also of­fers dras­tic im­prove­ments in key pa­ram­e­ters such as Q fac­tor, self-res­o­nant fre­quency, tol­er­ance and in­duc­tance.

Power chokes, used largely in line fil­ters, power sup­plies and DC/DC con­vert­ers, are also moulded in a mini form to serve the need for smaller sizes. Mini moulded chokes are mostly used in smart­phones and tablets for sleeker designs, im­proved bat­tery life and power man­age­ment.

An­other tech ad­vance­ment in the hand­held de­vices cat­e­gory is the de­vel­op­ment of 2-in-1 in­duc­tor ar­ray prod­ucts, which en­able more ef­fec­tive use of the lim­ited cir­cuit space.

Some ob­sta­cles...

Do­mes­tic man­u­fac­ture of all types of in­duc­tors is fac­ing an acute set­back due to un­avail­abil­ity and con­stant vari­a­tion in the prices of raw ma­te­ri­als, and there is a great re­liance on im­ported in­duc­tors at present. Anil Ba­tra, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, In­dian Tech­no­log­i­cal

Prod­ucts Pvt Ltd, says, “Re­lays (or in­duc­tors) are made in a highly au­to­mated pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity, wherein coil wind­ing, assem­bly and test­ing are all au­to­mated. There is in­tense com­pe­ti­tion to­day from im­ported re­lays, as the In­dian pro­duc­tion base is not able to take ad­van­tage of the economies of scale. Like any other in­dus­try, this in­dus­try is also to­tally driven by price; lo­cal com­pa­nies are re­ly­ing heav­ily on imports be­cause they are get­ting an un­re­stricted sup­ply of good qual­ity re­lays at a rel­a­tively low cost.”

How­ever, he points out the risk fac­tor when the buyer bases pro­cure­ments pri­mar­ily on price. “There are some man­u­fac­tur­ers in China who keep on di­lut­ing the spec­i­fi­ca­tions if the cus­tomer con­tin­ues ask­ing for a lower price. There­fore, it is im­por­tant to base the pur­chase on con­sis­tent qual­ity as well as on price,” he adds.

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