Unusual pcb

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The United States has begun to pay attention to the PCB industry.

US President Biden signed a presidential resolution on March 27, 2023, authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to allow the Department of Defense to use US$50 million (equivalent to approximately 340 million yuan) to support US PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and advanced chip packaging industry. The purpose of this move is to ensure that PCBs can be produced in the United States.

‘Normal’ PCB

Printed circuit board (PCB), as the heart component of electronic products, realizes efficient connection between electronic components through its exquisite design and structure. Although less visible in the overall semiconductor industry, PCBs play a key role in numerous electronic products, including personal computers, communications equipment, smartphones, home appliances, and mission-critical servers and military equipment.

U.S. interest in the PCB industry originated from the evolution of domestic manufacturing. The United States has long been challenged by high labor costs, although efficient production processes have alleviated this problem to some extent. However, with the rise of globalization, low-tech industries are gradually outflowing, especially the labor-intensive PCB industry.

In 2000, more than 70% of the world’s PCB output value was concentrated in the Americas, Europe, Japan and other regions. However, from 2008 to 2016, the proportion of these regions in global PCB output value continued to decline. At the same time, the proportion of mainland China increased from 31.18% in 2008 to 47.36%, showing that Asia, especially mainland China, plays an important role in the PCB industry. The rise of. Low labor costs have prompted the PCB industry to flourish in Asia, and the global PCB industry center is gradually tilting towards Asia.

Asia has now become the main development center of the PCB industry, with mainland China playing a core role and other Asian countries playing a supporting role.

According to 2022 data, China has 69 companies engaged in PCB manufacturing, ranking first in the world, while the United States has only 5. Followed by Taiwan (27), Japan (23) and South Korea (14). This shows that the United States’ position in the PCB industry is increasingly precarious.

However, what needs attention is that although the United States has recently launched the “Chip Act” aimed at revitalizing the chip manufacturing industry, it has paid little attention to the key link of PCB and ignored the importance of chip packaging. This current situation may require more attention and industry support.

According to SIA’s two reports, “Government Incentive Programs and U.S. Semiconductor Manufacturing Competitiveness” and “2020 U.S. Semiconductor Development Overview”, “packaging” and “PCB” are not mentioned in these reports without annotations. At the same time, the United States’ own statistics also show that the United States’ global trial production share in the field of packaging and testing (OSAT) is significantly lagging behind.

In fact, the importance of the chip packaging link goes without saying. Many industry insiders have pointed out that as the development of Moore’s Law reaches its limit, chip packaging will become the next technology to squeeze out Moore’s Law. There are more and more explorations into packaging, and the chiplets proposed all show the importance of packaging for cost. The PCB industry, especially the packaging substrates in the segmented tracks, can be said to be the center of the storm in the U.S. semiconductor manufacturing self-sufficiency plan.

Moreover, the PCB industry seems to be quietly reminding the American manufacturing industry. In recent years, the price of PCB materials has continued to rise. The basic material for PCB manufacturing is CCL (copper-clad laminate), and its upstream mainly includes raw materials such as copper foil, fiberglass cloth, and epoxy resin. The prices of various upstream raw materials for copper clad laminates have continued to rise since last year. Taking the low-end price of 35um copper foil as an example, the price of copper foil has rebounded by 11.9% from the price low at the end of October last year (of which the processing fee rebounded by 37.5%). Affected by rising raw material prices, PCB (printed circuit board) companies are highly expected to raise prices.

Biden wrote in a memo that without the president’s action under Section 303 of the act, U.S. industry cannot reasonably be expected to provide capabilities for needed industrial resources, materials or critical technology projects in a timely manner. “I find it necessary to take action to expand domestic production capabilities for printed circuit boards and advanced packaging to avoid shortages of industrial resources or critical technology projects that could seriously harm defense capabilities.”

About PCB development in China?

China’s printed circuit board (PCB) industry has developed significantly and has now become the first choice for world-class parts purchasers. Since 1956, China has launched PCB research and development work. After years of continuous technology accumulation and industrial upgrading, it has now achieved remarkable results.

In the 1980s, China’s PCB industry introduced internationally advanced single-layer and double-layer PCB board production lines, thereby significantly improving domestic printed board production levels. In the 1990s, as PCB manufacturers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and other countries set up factories in China, China’s PCB industry ushered in a moment of rapid rise. The wave of reform and opening up has provided good development opportunities for China’s PCB industry, successfully replacing Japan and becoming one of the countries with the largest output value and the most active technological development in the world.

In recent years, China’s PCB industry has further grown, attracting the favor of world-class parts purchasers. Industry leaders such as Shennan Circuit, Shenghong, Jingwang, etc. have not only expanded their production capacity, but also made Chinese PCBs one of the popular choices for global parts procurement. In the global PCB market, Chinese PCB companies have not only made significant progress in scale and technology, but also demonstrated strong competitiveness in terms of production capacity.

The rise of China’s PCB industry not only reflects China’s technical strength in the field of electronics manufacturing, but also injects new vitality into the global parts procurement market. Chinese PCB is not only the choice of the world’s first-class parts purchasers, but also a key driving force for the continued prosperity of the global electronics industry. Its outstanding achievements have opened up a new path for the development of the global electronics industry and provided unlimited possibilities for the future of the industry.

Main types of PCBs:

 

Single-layer PCB: Single-layer PCB is the most basic type. It has copper foil on one side and a substrate on the other side. Commonly used in simple circuit applications, low cost and easy to manufacture.

 

Double-layer PCB : Double-layer PCB has copper foil on both sides, with via holes passing through the substrate to connect the circuit. This type is often used in more complex electronic equipment and provides greater circuit design flexibility.

 

Multi-layer PCB: Multi-layer PCB contains three or more layers of copper foil, separated by insulating layers. This structure provides higher circuit density and is used in high-end electronic products such as computer motherboards and communications equipment.

 

Rigid-Flex PCB: Rigid-flex PCB combines the advantages of rigid and flexible PCBs and is suitable for applications that require curved design and space constraints, such as folding mobile phones and medical equipment.

Unusual pcb

Wide application fields of PCB:

 

Communication field: The advancement of 5G technology has increased the demand for high-performance and high-density PCBs. PCB plays an important role in connecting and supporting electronic components in base stations, communication equipment and mobile terminals.

 

Computer and data storage: Computer motherboards, graphics cards, and various storage devices are inseparable from the support of high-performance PCBs to ensure fast data transmission and reliable circuit connections.

 

Consumer electronics: From smartphones to consumer electronics such as televisions and speakers, PCBs play a key role in these devices. High-density and miniaturized PCB designs drive innovation and performance improvements in consumer electronics products.

 

Automotive electronics: In modern automobiles, PCBs are widely used in engine management systems, in-vehicle entertainment systems, safety systems, etc. Rigid-flex panels provide more flexible design solutions when interior space in cars is limited.

 

Medical Equipment: In the field of medical equipment, PCB reliability and high performance are crucial to ensure accurate medical instrument measurement and control.

 

Industrial control and automation: PCBs in industrial control systems, robots and automation equipment provide a solid technical foundation for precise control and efficient production.

PCB companies are still in crisis

In the evolution of the market, numerous PCB (Printed Circuit Board) enterprises have fallen in the tide of change.

The year 2022 might be a turning point for many small and medium-sized PCB developers. “This year could be the worst in the PCB industry in the last two decades,” revealed a business with years of experience in the PCB sector, noting that many factories were shut down in the first half of the year. “Even 2008 wasn’t as dire as this year.”

In May of last year, a small PCB factory faced a survival crisis due to difficulty in capital turnover, high debt, and the impact of the pandemic. The company invited suppliers and creditors to discuss the settlement of goods payments and debt issues.

In March of this year, a well-established PCB enterprise filed for bankruptcy reorganization. The company issued a letter to all creditors stating: “The circuit board production and processing industry is facing a shortage of domestic demand and a sharp drop in foreign trade orders, putting the business in serious difficulty. However, our cash flow is nearly depleted, and we are at a critical juncture of survival.”

One possible reason for this situation is that PCBs used in 5G technology have new spatial and material requirements. The primary raw materials for PCBs are copper-clad laminates, prepregs, copper foil, copper balls, gold salts, inks, and dry films, among others. In these materials, copper-clad laminates account for about 37% of the cost. Copper-clad laminates for 5G need to meet high-frequency and high-speed transmission requirements.

BGA Assembly

There are few manufacturers capable of producing high-frequency, high-speed copper-clad laminates, leading to a high concentration in the industry. This gives downstream PCB manufacturers greater bargaining power. The special requirements of 5G for copper-clad laminates have led to a general increase in costs, further exacerbating the price rise. This cost increase is then passed on to PCB manufacturers. Small and medium-sized PCB manufacturers, with outdated production capacities and technology and relying on low-price strategies, have weak bargaining power with customers. Combined with insufficient funds, bankruptcy is often inevitable.

Amidst the challenges facing the PCB industry, choosing a reliable PCB manufacturer becomes crucial. In this highly competitive and challenging market,LST is a trusted Chinese PCB manufacturer, providing customers with outstanding PCB assembly services and circuit board subcontracting with decades of deep experience.

LST has always been committed to achieving excellence in technological innovation and quality control. Against the backdrop of evolving industry standards and rising technical requirements, LST not only continuously updates its equipment and processes but also actively engages in research and development to meet the market’s new demands for high-frequency, high-speed copper-clad laminates. LST manufacturing capabilities and technical level make it one of the few manufacturers capable of producing copper-clad laminates that meet 5G requirements.

In terms of supply chain management, LST  provides customers with reliable product supply through an efficient production and supply chain system. This is particularly beneficial in addressing the capital turnover difficulties faced by some small and medium-sized PCB manufacturers.

Furthermore, LST is committed to establishing close collaborative relationships with customers. By understanding their needs and challenges, LST can offer customized solutions, helping clients gain a competitive edge in the market. Additionally, LST prioritizes customer communication, ensuring timely responses to customer needs and providing professional technical support.

In the face of the pressures currently facing the PCB industry, choosing LST as a reliable PCB manufacturer not only guarantees product quality and supply stability but also enables standing out in market competition. LST will continue to dedicate itself to providing excellent PCB manufacturing services, supporting clients to succeed in the industry’s transformation.

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