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The future of offline isolated power supplies (150W to 1kW) in the West?

A huge number of “general product” companies in the West are now defining a new type of offline , isolated, power supply requirement for the 150W to 1kW sector. Specially for companies who don’t have massive sales volumes and thus it’s difficult for them to get low cost Chinese manufacturers interested.
They don’t care about super technology, they want it cheap, but more importantly, they want the cost of maintaining the power supply to be cheap (eg all the component obsolescence, and the inevitable modifications to it as the product goes on, selling into slightly different markets, needing continuous slight spec changes, often meaning continuous PCB respins, etc, etc).
They simply can’t afford to have a design consultancy do something special for them, because they can’t maintain such a power supply throughout the product’s life. The emphasis is on maintain-ability…and the power supply must be maintain-able by electronics engineers who maybe don’t specialise too much in power supplys. This is because China has dominated the Power Supply sector so much that Western companies now find it difficult to recruit any staff who have even a little bit of power supply knowledge.
As such, it is being seen that simple PFC stages using eg a simple HiperPFS module, followed by a Vicor DCM module are becoming order of the day. (as attached). Bias power would be provided throughout by eg a TNYswitch flyback.

Can you see a problem with this? (Vicor DCM4623 is $175 for 100 pces and it’s 375W.)



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No. He has a valid point, particularly about finding qualified power system expertise. But I've danced with Vicor (and other high-density DC/DC companies) for a few decades, and one thing their products are *not* is "general". Unbelievable, alien-level magnetics technology, coupled with alien-level quirkiness.

Note: That's $175 ***each*** at 100 pieces, not "for" 100 pieces.

Relative to cost standards for "general product" products, Vicor (and all high-density DC/DC converter products) is expensive. You've got 50 cents per watt in the output device without the Vicor-recommended output filter or thermal management, plus the true cost of the PFC stage, plus the low voltage supply for the overvoltage monitor, plus the input common-mode noise filter (bricks are great at generating this), plus international safety certifications. The total cost will be much closer to $4 per watt than $1, in an industry where $1 per watt is considered high.

AND - you are chaining the product to an absolutely unique device with limited, sole-source supply. Per the concerns about long-term sustainability, this is a recipe for disaster.

The solution to the issues in his first paragraph is competent product definition that takes downstream support and evolution into account at the very beginning, not as an afterthought halfway through the design cycle.

One of the big buzzwords of product management out of the 80's was DFM - Design For Manufacturability.


For real product success, the M stands for Maintenance.

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