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Carbon nanotubes being used to develop ‘Smart Clothes’

Since the discovery of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in 1991, the material has been utilised for commercial purposes in several areas, including anti-corrosion paints, hydrophobic coatings and engineering plastics.

CNTs were one of the materials that made it possible for two-dimensional graphene to be used and researched. On a broader scale, it allowed nanoscience to branch into its own area of study.

The material is made up of a cylindrical tube of carbon atoms, and can be single-walled or multi-walled. On a molecular level, CNTs are 100 times more robust than steel and a fraction of the weight.

But in the last ten years, there have been studies into how the material’s heat and electrical conductive qualities might be used in another everyday product: clothes.

Keeping warm

A recent study by North Carolina State University examined CNTs’ usage as a ‘smart fabric’ in 2020. The researchers investigated how its heating and cooling properties could be harnessed to make a cheaper alternative to the current thermoelectric materials being used.

The plan is to integrate the CNTs into the fabric of the clothes, rather than an extra layer, which means the flexible material has an advantage over others currently available on the market.

The low thermal conductivity of CNTs means that heat would not travel back to the wearer, and the same applies to cool air, when an external current is applied.

Heart racing yet?

 A study from seven years previously studied how CNTs could be used as a built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) within athletic wear. The nanotube fibres sewn into the clothes monitored heartrate and took a continual cardiogram from the wearer.

The Brown School of Engineering lab, who conducted the research, said the shirt would have to be a tight fit to make sure the material touched the skin, but the t-shirt was still – miraculously – machine-washable.

According to the researchers the enhances shirt actually performed better than a chest-strap monitor ECG when compared in a test, and could connect to Bluetooth devices to transmit the collected data.

Recharging…

In 2018 engineers from the University of Cincinnati, in partnership with the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, conducted a study into how CNT clothes could charge a phone.

This study investigated the applications of CNT clothes in the military, where it could be used to charge the electronics that form part of a soldier’s field equipment instead of weighty batteries. Using a similar technique to the other studies, where CNT fibres were sewn into the clothes.

Will it make fashion week?

Not quite yet. Despite the cheaper-by-comparison cost of the material, the quantity of material required for mass production is too high for what is currently available and is still relatively young and untested. The specialist equipment that would also be needed for CNT textile production would be an investment many manufacturers would decide against.

While CNTs may not be a hugely sought-after material just yet, Cyclops can supply you with hard-to-find electronic components when you need them most. Contact us now at sales@cyclops-electronics.com to see how we can help you.

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Memory suppliers to benefit from strong demand and supplier shortages

While the downsides to electronic components shortages are well known, business is booming for smaller memory suppliers.

Sales of Samsung DRAM grew 26% in Q2 2021 without meaningful production capacity growth, and as supply-demand imbalances grow, memory suppliers like Samsung, Micron, and others are turning to smaller suppliers to fill gaps.

As chip shortages continue, demand grows. Order books get filled off the page, creating longer lead times (up to 40-weeks) and extending standing orders. This is bad news for the end-product manufacturer but great news for suppliers, who see sales rise and bids increase to fuel record turnover and, in some cases, net profits.

The sector as a whole is booming, but no better example of taking the bull by the horns exists than Alliance Memory.  

Alliance Memory is a US-based 30-year old DRAM manufacturer, billed as a legacy SRAM supplier and a leading domestic supplier of DRAM and flash memory. The company’s run rate in 2021 is double what it was in 2020.

In an interview with EPS News, Alliance Memory CEO David Bagby explains why: “we went out to customers struggling to get Samsung. Now we have maybe the best representation of DRAM and SRAM product of anybody out there.”

Memory upturn forecast to continue

IC Insights, the foremost authority on memory and chip demand, has predicted a new record high for memory demand in 2022.

Stronger DRAM pricing is expected to lift total memory revenue 23% in 2021 to $155.2 billion. The memory upturn is forecast to continue into 2022 to $180.4 billion, surpassing the all-time high of $163.3 billion set in 2018.

Demand for memory, including DRAM, SRAM and flash, is being driven by economic recovery and the transition to a digital economy. Unlike other technological cycles, the current cycle of digitalisation weights it, fuelled by innovations in data centres, 5G and space networks, AI, robotics and IoT.

Sequentially, the average price of DRAM rose 8% in the first quarter of 2021. Another increase of 18-23% in Q2 sent memory suppliers into a spin. Demand is outstripping supply, creating a perfect storm for continued price increases.

Price increases expected to continue until late 2022

The price of memory is more sensitive to other electronic components because supply is controlled by a few big players. Smaller memory suppliers fill in gaps in supply, but the big guns like Samsung and Micron rule the roost.

When demand outstrips supply at the big guns, prices explode. We’ve seen it several times before, such as the memory price increase of 2018. Prices fell again in 2019, recovered a little in 2020, then soared again this year.

Memory is a commodity and companies are willing to pay big to get a hold of it. Bidding wars are not uncommon and 40-week lead times are normal today.

However, while the memory upturn is predicted to continue into 2022, Gartner says memory prices will dive at the end of the year, predicting that an “oversupply” of memory chips will develop as demand eases and supply increases.

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Chip shortage hitting auto jobs

The global semiconductor shortage is hitting automotive manufacturers where it hurts, which will inevitably lead to job cuts across the supply chain.

We are already starting to see this with Stellantis, the car company formed by the merger of Fiat and Peugeot, saying it will cut over 1,600 jobs at its Illinois Jeep plant.

Elsewhere, the first sign of job cuts will be found in production cuts. Ford Motor Co has outlined a series of plant shutdowns due to the chip shortage, with five facilities in the US and one in Turkey affected. They have also cut output in Europe.

Meanwhile, GM has been forced into production cuts and Nissan recorded its worst annual loss in decades because of the global chip shortage.

Volkswagen AG has also sounded the horn, warning that chip shortages will curb output in the coming months of 2021. VW expects worsening production from the chip shortage and for it to affect all their cars groups, including SEAT and Audi.

Billions in losses

Job cuts appear to be inevitable across the automotive industry as manufacturers count the cost of production constraints caused by the chip shortage.

It is estimated the global auto industry will take an £80 billion hit in 2021. Several manufacturers have come forward with their own estimates. Ford says the chip shortage will cost them up to $2 billion in 2021 alone.  

Unfortunately, it is ordinary workers who will be punished. With fewer cars to make, workers involved in the manufacturing of cars will be cut first. We have already seen this with Stellantis. Other manufacturers will likely follow.

Why the chip shortage?

Modern cars have more than 1,000 chips in them and the smartest, most connected models, such as those with ADAS systems, have over 3,000 chips. So, even a small supply constraint can set back production.

However, this is no small supply constraint.

It appears that no auto maker is immune to the chip shortage brought about by cancelled orders at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, auto makers cancelled chip orders. Electronics manufacturers filled this gap in demand with soaring sales. Now that auto makers need to ramp up chip orders again, they have nowhere to go because most chip makers are running at 98-100% capacity making chips for other booming sectors.

This has caused a global semiconductor shortage that has affected all industries and all players. Even Samsung, who make their own chips, are struggling. The shortage is predicted to last 1-2 years until new foundries become operational.

Looking ahead

The semiconductor shortage won’t last forever, and people need cars. Production will accelerate in the years to come. However, jobs may still be at risk.

Sadly, the chip shortage could accelerate digital transformation in manufacturing facilities, with the displacement of human workers for machines.

This is commonplace, but traditional brands may now seek a permanent solution to job cuts through technology. Automated plants are inevitable.

In any case, the future of the automotive industry is bright so long as you extend your horizon. The chip shortage is likely to last for the next 2 years. If you work in the automotive sector, strap yourself in. There’s more drama to come.

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Electronic Components Future Uncategorized

How does recycling electronics help create sustainability within the industry?

Thanks to advancements in material science and recycling technologies, it’s possible to recycle around 80% of most new electronics. For example, the smartphone in your hand or pocket has around 80% recyclable components.

The most valuable components in electronics are rare and precious metals. The quantity of these metals in your phone is tiny but the number of phones (and other electronics) that enter landfills is huge. This creates a lucrative opportunity for recyclers to invest in processes that can extract the most valuable components efficiently.

Recycling in the electronics industry

Recycling electronics is important to not only reduce e-waste, but also our dependency on the mining and manufacturing of new materials. 

The electronics industry is at odds with environmentalists because the industry that’s pioneering solar and renewable energy technologies generates a lot of e-waste. You can’t have it both ways. If you want technology to fight climate change, it first has to advance to a point where it becomes neutral and self-sustained.

Mass recycling is the process that will enable this in the future. For now, it is a stop-gap to minimise the electronics industry’s impact on the environment. And it’s working, with 15% of e-waste recycled globally in 2019. This figure is rising by 2-3% per year. In 2030 we expect the global e-waste recycling rate to hit 50%.

European legislation requires every manufacturer and producer to arrange and finance the collection, treatment, recycling, and disposal of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). This is a positive step. In the future, we want to see 100% recycling efficiency, although this will require different materials to those used today.

Excess inventory management

Another area of the electronics industry where recycling is important is excess electronic components. These components are not assigned for manufacturing and have no purpose in production. They take up space and are depreciating assets.

These components tend to be discarded and written off. However, recycling is not the best thing for them. The best thing for them is putting them back into production. The old phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” springs to mind.

This process is known as excess inventory management and it requires an electronic component distributor to purchase unwanted stockpiles of components. These stockpiles are then re-sold through a distribution network.

This provides a few benefits to the seller:

  • An instant, positive cash injection
  • Reduced stockholding costs
  • Reduced time spent managing surplus stock

Over at our sister company, Cyclops Excess who specialise in the purchase and management of excess stock that has been identified for disposition. This process turns unwanted electronic components into cash and introduces new revenue streams for you.

If you have unwanted excess stock contact them today, Excess offers three buying options to suit you and your business needs. Call 01904 415 415,  email our team hello@cyclopsxs.com or visit the website here https://cyclopsxs.com/ 

Where does excess inventory end up?

Most excess inventory ends up on the production line with manufacturers and OEMs to create new products. This puts the components into production and significantly increases the time from manufacture to end of life.

Other components can find no end-user. In this case, the components are sent to specialist recycling centers that purchase the components as scrap. Around 10% of excess inventory is sent on for recycling. The majority enters production.

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Facebook is going to put smart glasses on your face in 2021

You may recall that several years ago (back in 2013 to be exact), Google brought out Google Glass. This was a brand of smart glasses that used touch and voice commands to interact with online content, display directions and act as a phone. The product wasn’t a massive success, but it did kickstart a consumer-focused AR arm’s race.

When we talk about AR or augmented reality, with regards to glasses. We mean eyewear with technology that merges what you see in the real-world with an overlay of virtual information from the internet. Examples include directions to a supermarket when you walk and restaurant reviews when you look at a sign.

The AR market is predicted to be worth $100 billion by 2024 and the technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Facebook is the latest juggernaut to enter the fold, and they have plans to put smart glasses on your face by 2021.

Facebook’s move into AR

Facebook owns Oculus, the company behind some of the world’s most popular VR (virtual reality) headsets. AR goes beyond VR by adding digital elements to real life, as opposed to simulating a new environment entirely.

Oculus practically has the VR market sewn up already, so it hasn’t come as a surprise to us that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently revealed Project Aria, Facebook’s augmented reality research project that will deliver a product by 2021.

Announced during the fittingly remote Facebook Connect event, Zuckerberg said the goal is to “develop some normal-size, nice-looking glasses that you can wear all day, and interact with holograms, digital objects and information while still being present with the people and the world around you.”

It all sounds exciting, and though we have been here before with Google Glass, Facebook has a track record with VR. They could do the same with AR, and Project Aria is the research project that will deliver the technology needed.

The technology driving AR

To create an AR environment, you need sound, video, graphics, networking, and GPS data. AR requires good hardware and software. If Facebook intends to create “normal-size, nice-looking glasses”, the technology will also have to be refined.

Zuckerberg admits “there’s still a lot of work to be done on the foundational technologies,” but adds that “Project Aria is the first research device we’re putting out into the world to help us understand the hardware and software needed.”

To deliver the end product, Facebook has partnered with luxury eyewear giant Luxottica. It is expected that Facebook’s smart glasses will have Ray-Ban branding. This will help the glasses accommodate a wider range of styles.           

Specifications for the 2021 glasses have not been revealed. However, they are expected to be capable of overlaying directions, music recommendations, localised information (such as what’s around the corner), and integrate with some of Facebook’s features. It’s important to note, however, that nothing is certain.

Also, Facebook is working on its own 100% in-house AR eyewear, which it intends to thoroughly test before bringing any product to market. The tech giant has a reputation to uphold with eyewear (they own Oculus), and if their VR headsets are anything to go by, we are in for a treat when Facebook’s AR glasses finally land.

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Cyclops Group Brexit statement (IV) issued October 2020

Operational update

Cyclops group has robust plans in place for a variety of Brexit outcomes. Strategic Brexit planning has evolved over the last 2 years to incorporate the likelihood of several possible outcomes as well as a fully negotiated agreement. For this reason, the Business has been required to undertake a particularly extensive analysis of risk and therefore predicts no change to the essential service provided by Cyclops.

In the event of a no-deal exit, the UK Government has detailed that “The trade you carry out with the EU will broadly follow the customs controls that apply for the rest of the world.” As a business that has traded internationally for many years, we have a wide variety of country-specific trade processes in utilisation.

The most important element for undisrupted trade is the adoption and utilisation of a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification number (EORI). This has been held by the Business for a number of years.

We have been working closely with our freight partners to ensure that they have sufficient plans in place to minimise any border disruption. We are entirely satisfied that all sensible precautions have been taken such as the recruitment of extra staff at the border. Furthermore, the Business operates from several worldwide locations and has a variety of re-deployment options available to it.

The Business continues to make adaptations as further information becomes available. The prioritization of our customer service delivery is firmly entrenched in our Business model and we seek to reassure our customers of our proactive approach.

Should you wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to make contact me.

David Yodaiken

Commercial Director

Davidy@cyclops-electronics.com

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What the future holds for passive and interconnecting electronic components

While the world economy is in freefall with the COVID-19 pandemic, with mass unemployment and trade plummeting, the global passive and interconnecting electronic components market is expected to continue growing thanks to demand from the developing world and the rise of 5G infrastructure.

Grand View Research has released forecasts for the passive and interconnecting electronic components market, predicting a compound annual growth rate of 5.3% from 2020 to 2027 with a slowdown from 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19.

The future is by no means certain and we do not know exactly how badly the world economy will be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. We do however have models that tell us demand will increase for electronics over time. This spells good news for components manufacturers and the wider electronics industry.

Changes in market demand

As the world economy is adversely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, demand for electronic components in many verticals will slow. This can be traced back to the reality that in times of uncertainty, consumers are warier of spending money. Less demand for products means a slowdown in production and demand.

However, regardless of the world economy, some regions do have a stimulus. The United Kingdom, Japan, China, South Korea, and the US are rolling out 5G network infrastructure and this will stimulate the electronics market. Smartphones, tablets, drones, and other devices that rely on networking will be key beneficiaries.

So, it isn’t by any means doom and gloom for the global passive and interconnecting electronic components market. Growth is predicted from 2020 to 2027 and the COVID-19 outbreak will only slow down this growth temporarily.

How component sourcing has changed

In response to a fall in demand for products, passive and interconnecting electronic component production has slowed. In addition, a lot of stock hasn’t been used and is sitting in storage until such a time it is needed.

Prior to COVID-19, it was easy to think of component production as being in a state of perpetual motion for it was always present. Demand has fallen but that doesn’t mean it has ceased. Passive and interconnecting electronic components are still being sourced, albeit in smaller batches and more carefully than ever.

Another behavior we have witnessed is component hoarding. OEMs are unsure of their partner’s manufacturing capabilities in the face of COVID-19. So, they are hoarding components to ensure they can scale up demand when the time is right. This is considered normal behavior without a global pandemic, but we are seeing more extreme examples as a means to protect manufacturing output. Ultimately, this means there are fewer components to go around, which drives up the cost of certain components.

How we can help you with sourcing

The future may be uncertain but good preparation will help you through it. As your electronic component distribution partner, we can source components for you with access to all major manufacturers. We can source legacy, obsolete, state-of-the-art, and short production run components at prices that suit your margin. Visit our website or click here to use access to our component search and enquire with us. We are here to help you with your electronic component needs.

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Cyclops September COVID-19 Lead time Update

As we enter another global spike in COVID-19 more uncertainty rises in its impact it could have on electronic global supply chains and manufacturers.   

Manufacture Altera has had an increase in lead times to 15-16 weeks this is due to the demand from the server market. Analog devices have reported their lead times are more than 20 weeks on some parts, this is due to low capacity of ASP materials for medical parts.

Linear Technology have reported they are extending their LTM lead times to 20-24 weeks, while their LT series lead times currently stand at 16-20. LT1 and LTC1 are also unstable. Consequently, the company reported that parts used in medical equipment are experiencing unstable lead times, like Analog this is likely due to the impact of Covid-19 and the demand for medical supplies. NXP factories are experiencing wafer shortages and lack of production capacity. Their MPX/Sensor series has spiked to 26 weeks, the market price has risen by 20% this is a result in the sensors being used in medical treatments.

Maxim Integrated has announced due to the recent lockdown of Maxims Philippines factory has caused delays and lead times are remining at 14-16 with backlog unable to be pulled in. Similarly, company Microchip lead times are stretching to 16-20 weeks this is due to the limited factory capacity due to COVID-19. OMRON Micro switches are experiencing stretched lead times and increase in pricing particularly effecting the D2FC series. Lead times are now around 14-20 weeks. ROHM plants in Philippines are currently working at 50% due to COVID-19 quarantine.

AVX tantalum caps and F series parts are expecting shortage, the lead times have increased to a staggering 30-40 weeks, this has led to AVX not accepting lead time-based orders.

Need quicker lead times?

We are experiencing an increase in lead times due to COVID-19 as seen above manufactures are struggling to produce the mass quantity due to lock downs and shortage of staff.

We at cyclops electronics are here to provide those hard to find components in these challenging times. To search for your components please click here. Or email sales@cyclops-electronics.com for enquires.

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