Hitachi announced in October that it plans to rapidly triple its production capacity for the companys Finemet nanocrystalline magnetic material due to increasing demand for soft magnetic materials that offer high performance at high frequencies. Market pressure to produce smaller and lighter power supply circuits for electric vehicles, railways, and renewable energy systems has been driven by higher switching frequencies boosting the performance of power semiconductors, the company said.
Hitachi Metals has focused on the further expansion of its specialty steels business to automobile-related fields particularly for electric vehicles as a key growth strategy. In recent years, the company explained, reduction in the size and weight of power supply circuits, the growing performance of next-generation semiconductors such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride semiconductors have necessitated products with a larger capacity and higher switching frequency than before.
However, transformers and reactors using electrical steel have a higher core loss in the high-frequency ranges, and suppression of the temperature rise caused by this loss makes it difficult to downsize the system. Downsizing and spacesaving design will also generate noise in the high-frequency ranges that cannot be suppressed by conventional products. Against this background and amid the surging demand for electric vehicles and other new products, the properties of Finemet including both its high magnetic permeability and flux density, are receiving widespread attention for many applications such as transformers, reactors, and chokes for noise filters, the company said.
Hitachi plans to accomplish the expansion by boosting is production lines to the new level by the end of its 2018 fiscal year.