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Electrical components, such as these resistors, will be cheaper for MIT associates thanks to a new agreement with supplier Digi-Key.
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Electronics supplier Digi-Key has recently agreed to provide a 15 percent discount and free second-day shipping to MIT departments, though students might get the discount for personal use as well.

The new agreement runs through Dec. 31, 2009. MIT previously received a 10 percent discount with Digi-Key and no free shipping.

Digi-Key is not the only electronics supplier that offers MIT a discount, but it is one of the few that will apply the discount to orders made outside of MIT’s internal purchasing website, eCAT3. This means that students can order items for personal use, though it is not clear if this is intended under MIT’s agreement with Digi-Key.

MIT was able to secure the improved contract with Digi-Key by partnering with and leveraging the purchasing volume of MIT’s Lincoln Labs.

According to Derek K. Welcome of the Procurement office, Digi-Key will give the discount to purchases made on Digi-Key’s own website, over the phone. Ordering is not yet available through eCAT3 though it will be soon, Welcome wrote in an e-mail.

Users ordering online would have to enter an MIT address, while users ordering by phone would have to say that they’re from MIT, according to Welcome. A Tech reporter was able to get the discount by using Digi-Key’s website.

It may now be possible for students to easily and quickly acquire small quantities of electronics parts for personal use, a service that has been long been requested, since MIT no longer has electronics storerooms that will provide students with parts.

Over the past few decades, parts have become so easy to order that departments have stopped maintaining large stocks of parts. Instead, individual labs order only what they need.

Most purchases by MIT labs and groups take place through a system known as eCAT3, a procurement web portal which offers access to catalogs from various suppliers with MIT’s discounts already applied.

To make a purchase through the eCAT3 system, the user must be an approved buyer. Most students cannot make use of the eCAT3 system, so they cannot access many discounts available from MIT suppliers.