If you have not been hit by the MLCC shortage by now you should probably go out and buy a lottery ticket before your lucky streak is gone. Limited capacity expansion in the MLCC industry, specifically the ability to stack ceramic layers (limited capex in three-dimensional stacking capacity for barium titanate dielectric composition and nickel electrode paste) will extend shortages of MLCC to 2020 and beyond. This being said we should also see a large influx of counterfeit product entering the market. You need to safe guard your supply chain and work with a distributor that is reputable. Counterfeiting MLCC's is going to be very easy for the "counterfeiters" to do. The following are inspection methods that will help mitigate the risk.
- Packaging & Documentation Inspection
- External Visual Inspection (EVI)
- XRF Material Analysis to verify the elements in the dielectric materials, the terminations, and the plating.
- Parametric electrical testing at ambient and min/max operating temperature range and compared to the characteristics curve.
- Cross-section measure the active area, dielectric area, number of electrodes, and consistency of the layering.
- Statistical analysis of test data. While alternative manufacturers may be able to meet the specifications within a range, the consistency of the measured data to a point is much tighter in Tier 1 manufacturers. Test data is statistically analyzed for the consistency that differentiates products and manufacturers.