Why Tantalum is so expensive? Why is it a problem? And what can be done about it?

“Our life would never be as advanced and comfortable as it is if not for the application of tantalum and niobium.” And this is right. This is what I wrote at the very beginning of my book about tantalum and niobium chemistry. Tantalum capacitors are everywhere: in our cellphones, computers, in about any electronic device you use. Due to the unique properties of tantalum, these capacitors provide a champion performance within the smallest size. Defibrillators and pacemakers contain tantalum capacitors because of their reliability. Tantalum is the only material that is fully compatible with the human body; therefore, parts made…

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How to improve yield and reduce costs of manufacturing with PRIZ Innovation Platform

There are two most critical parameters of manufacturing – production yield and product cost. Managers task their teams to reduce the cost and improve the yield, but both parameters are strongly linked. They together look like a swing for kids. The linkage between yield and cost is very well known; nevertheless, people are trying to improve those parameters in isolation. This article discusses two significant strategy vectors: production yield improvement and product cost reduction. Traditional approach The management defines two targets: Increase production yield Reduce product cost Managers of lower-level begin to set up projects trying to achieve each target….

Beyond plasma in microelectronics with 9 WINDOWS

A microchip processing consists of only two types of operations to either deposit something or remove something. Nothing more than that. Modern microelectronic production is mainly based on processes using plasma. Even if we take into account diffusion and some other wet processes,  plasma remains the main instrument in microelectronic manufacturing. In this article, we want to analyze the plasma-based processes using 9 Windows and predict what will replace the plasma in microchip manufacturing. 9 Windows is an excellent tool that helps us think in space and in time. This tool helps us to predict the future. Analysis using 9…

Don’t fix it if it’s broken

We all remember the well-known aphorism by Robert Atkins “Don’t fix what’s not broken.” The meaning is clear – do not change something that works well. Let’s take it to the next level as innovators and problem-solvers: “Don’t fix what’s broken.” Indeed, do we really need to fix something that is not working well? Why should not we fix what’s broken? Fixing something is the most expensive and the least productive process. The only goal of fixing the broken part is to get it back to where it was before, to return it to the previous state. Fixing is an…

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