Founded in 1919 by Hugh S. Cooper, KEMET is celebrating a centennial year marked by dramatic growth. With over 16,000 employees worldwide and 24 manufacturing locations, what started with one man has become a rich history thousands are proud to call their own. From the garage to the globe, our story is one for the 20th century and beyond.

Their experiments led to an important breakthrough. KEMET scientists developed a new gettering device to remove unwanted gases in vacuum tubes made of barium and strontium. The results rendered vacuum tubes more efficient and durable, revolutionizing radio technology. 1927 KEMET Laboratories, National Carbon Company, Lakewood, OH 1919-1971 Working in his garage, Cooper developed a process for producing elemental beryllium on an industrial scale and invented an alloy of beryllium and aluminum that he called “Cooperite.” KEMET was founded in 1919 by Hugh S. Cooper (1885-1971). 1919 Cooper sold his patents to Union Carbide, which formed KEMET (CHEmical-METallurgical) Laboratories with Cooper as its director. KEMET Laboratories KEMET traces its origin back to 1919 when Hugh Cooper founded KEMET Laboratories as a materials science and research organization. The first patent issued to KEMET is for a novel process for zinc oxide production. 1919
KEMET Getter Factory, Cleveland, 1940s By the late 1930s, KEMET would produce hundreds of different getter designs that were used in virtually every vacuum tube manufactured in the United States and England. KEMET’s “War Plant” in Lakewood hired additional employees to meet the demand for radio tubes during WWII. KEMET listed as a division of Union Carbide in a 1945 War Bonds ad. The invention of the transistor in 1947 changed the electronics industry. Over the next two decades, vacuum tubes would be phased out in favor of smaller, more durable semiconductors. (An old joke: “Nature abhors a vacuum tube!”) . 1947 KEMET design for improved vacuum tube getters. 1948 Research Department, Union Carbide, Niagara Falls, NY, 1938 Working out of Union Carbide labs in Cleveland and Niagara Falls, Cooper and his staff experimented with a range of rare elements to develop alloys and processes that might have industrial implications. Vacuum tubes with KEMET getters powered the logical circuitry of the first generation of computers, beginning with the Atanasoff–Berry Computer. 1939 Vacuum Tube Era KEMET first entered the electronics industry by manufacturing getters for vacuum tubes. KEMET getters were eventually designed into the vacuum tubes that powered one of the first general purpose computers, ENIAC. 1930
In 1950, scientists at Bell Labs invented the solid electrolyte tantalum capacitor. Preston Robinson and his colleagues at the Sprague Electric Company developed a method for manufacturing them on a commercial scale and licensed the process to KEMET. Preston Robinson, Sprague Electric, 1952 1954 KEMET tantalum capacitors, 1959 A technician at the KEMET plant in Cleveland reads X-ray plates for some of the 36 different types of tantalum capacitors developed for Telstar, the first communications satellite. 1962 Union Carbide’s KEMET Plant in Simpsonville, SC, 1965 Union Carbide built a new 45,000 sq. ft. plant for KEMET in South Carolina. Burgeoning sales demanded further expansion, and two years later the building was increased by another 100,000 sq. ft. 1963 KEMET Brochure, 1963 Cutting ceramic capacitors by hand, 1968 KEMET introduced a new line in multilayer ceramic capacitors in 1969, and built a new plant in Matamoros, Mexico, to meet the demand. Further plants would follow in Monterrey and Ciudad Victoria, as well as new facilities in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, as well as offices in Toronto and Geneva. KEMET ceramic capacitors, smaller than a grain of salt State-of-the-art technology, 1968 Testing capacitors, 1978 1978 As the electronics industry moved past vacuum tubes, so did KEMET. Transistors began to dominate the electronics market. KEMET had to reinvent itself to supply the needs of the market with tantalum capacitors manufactured out of its new headquarters in Simpsonville, South Carolina. 1950 Transistor Era
KEMET capacitors became integral components in everything from washing machines to personal computers to spacecrafts, including the Mars Voyager and the Mir space station. Tantalum capacitors, 1990 KEMET opened its first Asian plant in Suzhou, China. Others would follow in Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand. 2003 KEMET Electronics Corporation KEMET capacitors were successful and as the electronics industry grew, so did KEMET, with an expanding portfolio of capacitors including both tantalum and ceramic capacitors. KEMET soon grew beyond South Carolina to a multinational corporation. Throughout this global expansion period, KEMET maintained a leadership position in the advancement of materials science . 1987 In 1987, KEMET senior managers organized a leveraged buyout from Union Carbide, establishing KEMET as an independent company.
In 2005, there was a dramatic shift in the company’s identity. KEMET transformed a successful local company into a major global corporation. 2006 KEMET’s acquisition of EPCOS Tantalum in 2006 was the first major step in this process, an initiative begun in 2001 to achieve vertical integration of the supply chain for KEMET’s signature product. The acquisition of Niotan Incorporated in 2012 would extend this initiative. Controlling the tantalum supply chain was as much an ethical decision as a business one. Now, KEMET is able to ensure that the raw materials sourced for its products are mined responsibly and sustainably. 2007 The acquisition of Evox Rifa and Arcotronics made KEMET a player in film, paper, and aluminum electrolytic capacitors. 2015 KEMET acquires an in-house team for the development of sophisticated software for discovery, decision support, sales, and marketing. KEMET acquires NEC TOKIN in Japan and renames it to TOKIN Corporation.  This acquisition expands KEMET’s global footprint, primarily in Asia, enables KEMET to reach customers in the Japanese market, and positions KEMET as a leading supplier of electronic components by adding electromechanical and electromagnetic technologies to its offerings. 2017 China Plant KEMET Diversifies Its Offerings KEMET matures into a global supplier of capacitors by diversifying its offerings to include aluminum electrolytic and film capacitors. Operations are greatly expanded through organic growth and acquisitions of companies in Europe and Asia. 2005
The Next 100 Years KEMET prepares itself for the future and the next phase of the electronics industry. The continued electrification of everyday items, the automotive industry, and the increased interconnection of devices on a global scale will be enabled by KEMET electronics components. 2019 READ MORE