Sourcing Components with Christopher Calvi

April 30, 2019 Judy Warner

The Head of Octopart®, Chris Calvi is with us today to talk about sourcing components, which has never been more challenging than it is today. Chris will also share his vision of the future where finding parts will be easy, fast, and fully transparent.

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Show Highlights:

  • Chris attended Georgia Tech and after graduation he moved to LA, where he worked at Shopzilla, a consumer product search engine. He has 13 years’ experience in vertical search engines both in Business Development and General Management roles. He’s been with Octopart in New York for eight years, of which he’s served as GM for the last three years.

  • Octopart was started in 2007 by three Physicists in Grad School. Due to problems with manually finding electronic parts; the idea of a search engine was born.

  • All three dropped out of school and with the help of Y Combinator, Octopart got off the ground.

  • Today there are between 800,000 and 900,000 users on the site monthly.

  • Octopart works with over 200 distributors whose sponsorship make it possible for the user to access the database for free.

  • Octopart shows part pricing and availability, datasheets, full technical details, and CAD models (including schematic symbols, footprints, and 3D models).

  • Part shortages are currently a huge problem especially with multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs).

  • Octopart has a Similar Parts feature on the part detail page.

  • The search criteria is very smart which is very helpful for everyday decisions.

  • Availability and approved vendors lists as well as backup distributors are important in decision making

  • Octopart receives a lot of feedback regarding the importance of understanding risk and particularly lifecycle status.

  • End of life (EOL) is a huge problem in applications such as aerospace

  • Octopart offers authorized channels or sources where the manufacturer has formal relationships with distributors. Octopart displays authorized distributors at the top of the offer table.

  • Compliance documentation and government regulations: there are restrictions on hazardous substances or chemicals - all part of the ‘problem set’ of selecting parts which Octopart strives to address.

  • Vision and strategy for Octopart: First aim is a user-friendly solution. Second aim is for Octopart to be the go-to source for any relevant data on electronic components.

  • Another aspiration is transparent structured data (information on where part information came from, when the data was last updated, etc.) is essential for the future of electronic design and manufacturing.

  • Machine learning and automated part selection applications mean much more opportunity in the future.

  • Obstacles now: Unstructured data, no data standards.

  • CAD Tools and API: Application Programming Interface means you can tap into Octopart irrespective of what softwareyou're using. This interface is another product of Octopart and one that is receiving attention.

  • For programmatic access to our electronic part search capabilities and part database, go to: Octopart API  

  • How are Altium and Octopart connected? Octopart serves as the parts enterprise unit for Altium. As Altium brings digital continuity; Octopart strives to bridge the gap as a structured data piece.

  • Octopart is for everyone, not only Altium Designer® users, but also those engineers using different ECAD software. Other Octopart users include makers, students, sourcing and procurement folks, etc.


Links and Resources:


Octopart API

Search parts by technical spec

Free ECAD models

Similar Parts (alternate parts)

Advertise with Octopart

Join the Octopart newsletter

Careers at Octopart


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About the Author

Judy Warner

Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry since 1984. She has a deep background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing with a focus on Mil/Aero applications in technical sales and marketing.

She has been a writer, contributor and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, The PCB Magazine, The PCB Design Magazine, PDCF&A and IEEE Microwave Magazine and is an active member of multiple IPC Designers Council chapters.

In March 2017, Warner became the Director of Community Engagement for Altium and immediately launched Altium’s OnTrack Newsletter.
She led the launch of AltiumLive: Annual PCB Design Summit, a new and annual Altium User Conference.

Judy's passion is to provide resources, support and to advocate for PCB Designers around the world.

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