In this modern age, in which technology is becoming increasingly important in our lives, it should come as no surprise that having a device that is up to date is now an absolute must-have for everyone. Technology advances at a breakneck pace, making us more vulnerable to cyberattacks and software flaws than ever before. As the demand for a functional working system increases, we require an efficient technological system that can keep up with our needs.
The same is true for circuits, a critical component of any electronic device. Circuits make electricity functional. Think smartphones, TVs, radios, and other devices. These are equipped with small electronic circuits that transmit data to make our devices function correctly. In another way, circuits are the backbone (read more) of all electrical appliances.
Simultaneously, we’re looking for better alternatives for better power applications designed to withstand the amount of power our electricity needs. Now, the use of film-based technology products has advanced to the point where they can effectively replace inferior carbon resistors. Not to mention the fact that these carbon resistors are only slightly less expensive than modern metal film resistors while being no better.
What Are Resistors?
Among all the electronic components in a circuit, the resistor is the most basic. It functions that resist the currents and voltages that flow through them. However, because these tiny devices do not have their own power source, they can only monitor, attenuate, or reduce voltage and current. In the same way, it will allow a current to flow when two resistors are bound together.
When resistors (link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistor) were first introduced, they were enormous in size, and their tolerance values could reach up to 10 percent. This is made possible thanks to the conductive material constructed. As a result, its characteristics actually depend on it too. To name a few, these include durability, size, temperature and voltage coefficients, and noise features of a resistor. There is an infinite list of various resistors, including those made of compressed carbon, film type, and wire-wound type of resistors.
Carbon resistors are commonly used in power supply applications because of their ability to withstand high levels of power pulses. It is used in high voltage applications, including those used by an electrical utility provider.
It can also be used for lower voltage applications like a simple power strip-style surge protector that you might have in your home. Furthermore, they’re also used in x-rays and lasers and for some applications in radar and welding technology.
Compared to other resistors, they’re best for high voltage because they’re made with higher resistance, plus they’re cheaper. However, when it comes to its features, they seem to be inferior due to the instability of their design. Since it contains a myriad of materials with different heat expansion characteristics, it has a subpar performance, especially now in modern applications, regarding temperature stability.
Furthermore, due to its granular composition and combination of different materials, this resistor is very noisy. In fact, as the current flows, the level of noise increases.
Today, the resistor types still in production are wire wound chips, which are also considered the oldest. They have outstanding properties for low resistance values and high power ratings, and they can be manufactured with high precision. Also, industrial and high-power applications such as fuses and electrical systems rely on these resistors to function.
These resistors generate very accurately with high power ratings and low resistance values while maintaining excellent properties. However, it is significantly more expensive and larger in size when you compare it to other resistors.
Thick Film Vs. Thin Film
In today’s market, thick and thin film resistors are among the most common types of resistors you can find. They are made of a resistive layer on a ceramic substrate, and both of them appear to be very similar in looks. However, their properties and manufacturing processes greatly vary. True to the name, they differ based on the thickness of their film. In contrast to a thin film, which has a thickness in the range of 0.1 um (micrometer) or more minor, the thick film has a thickness that is thousands of times bigger.
Thick film resistors have many of the characteristics of resistors made of carbon. They can be made small and are low cost when purchased in large quantities. Also, they have high resistance values and excellent high power performance, and high voltage applications. In addition, they’re inherently non-inductive, making them ideal for applications, which have demanding requirements, such as medical, aerospace, and oil or gas applications.
However, compared to those of wire wound or foil types, their resistance tolerance, thermal conductivity ratio, and stability over time are not as good for long-term use. Simultaneously, it is perceived as high cost when compared to standard products. Also, they are typically sourced from a single source, which might be a potential threat to long-term system availability in the long run. So if you’re looking for a readily available film resistor that can be procured on an as-needed basis, this might not be a good option. Besides, this thick film may not be as accurate as a thin film.
On the other hand, thin films are famous for giving more accuracy. In fact, they are typically used for high-precision applications because of their relatively high tolerance for power pulses, low-temperature coefficients, and for providing little-to-no noise! But true to the quality, Thin Film Chip Resistors are generally more expensive. But with its promising long-term advantages, the upfront costs are worth it.
But depending on the use, both of these film types have advantages. In fact, they are used in different ways. Generally, a resistor made of the thick film is ideal for both low-cost, low-power applications and for applications requiring higher ohmic value and higher power. Hence, it can be suitable for those with low-performance requirements. On the other hand, thin-film resistors are better than thick films for high-frequency applications because of their tight tolerance, providing greater stability.