I'm finding for some SMD components such as MLCC(Multi-Layer Ceramic Capacitor)s. I tried to find both inexpensive and regularly-sized(which in my words this mean 'comfortable to solder with my hands', for example 2012 or 3216 size, all mm units) capacitors, but they weren't cheap and the price was so unreasonable.

For example, suppose I buy a 2.2uF MLCC(regardless of the dielectric characteristics). In the size of 1608, I can buy some relatively cheap one, however in the size of 2012, they were too expensive(instead they were supplied with a Reel unit).

This is so frustrating because my country doesn't have MLCC makers, of course, paradoxically, Samsung does(their factory is not in Korea, so shipping fee is very expensive and I'm working for the project in my University).

I feel that this question is more alike to economics, however in my experience price and parts selection is important in engineering so I want to know.. why generally smaller size in MLCC is relatively cheap? Is it hard to make MLCCs relatively bigger than the 1608 one? Or, is the cause 'the buyers want to buy a reel unit rather than a private component'?

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    \$\begingroup\$ 1608 (0603) isn't really much harder to deal with than 2012 (0805) in fact for a one-off you can usually even perch the smaller on the pads for the larger as long as there isn't a trace between not covered by soldermask. I bought a lot of 0805's back when I was new to SMT but rarely use them now, except in values where physically smaller causes performance issues. Talking you want into whatever lab on campus has a decent stereo zoom microscope will be worthwhile, though prices have fallen so much you could probably justify your own if this if EE will be your career. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2018 at 0:25

1 Answer 1


Generally you'll find the cheaper prices are found where high volume cost-sensitive buyers congregate. Last I looked, for ordinary low voltage bypass capacitors such as 100nF that would be 0402 (inch). 0603 is not too bad too, and tends to come in smaller lots (usually 5K vs 10,000 in a reel for 0402).

I would suggest you learn to handle 0603 size at least.

I expect that there may be a bifurcation of pricing such that 0201 (and smaller) and 0603 are eventually preferred.

It's a bit complicated right now because of MLCC shortages, but that never lasts.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Due to the high demand for the small capacitors and the shortage for MLCCs, the manufacturers are moving their capacity towards the smaller sizes. This makes it even worse for those that desire bigger case size. +1 on learning to handle smaller components. 0402 is still reasonably easy to solder even without a microscope. It is the 0201s that start to get tricky, but with a microscope it's not that difficult either. I think it is just a mental "issue". Once you get your head around how small they look, it gets easy \$\endgroup\$
    – TemeV
    Dec 30, 2018 at 6:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Vendors keep telling me to go small with MLCCs because they're discontinuing larger packages, and I'm over here like "when you figure out how to give me more than a microfarad in those small packages, let me know." Strange times. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Young
    Dec 30, 2018 at 23:17

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