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August 31, 2019

Trends, Predictions and Challenges for the PCB Industry

The printed circuit board (PCB) is a core component used in the manufacturing of nearly all modern electronic products, which range from the basic LED lights to complicated motherboards for high-end computers. As technology is currently assisting modern society in almost every facet, the future is looking particularly bright for the PCB industry.

The Global PCB Industry is Economically Booming

According to analytical data, as published by a well-known, procurement intelligence firm, the PCB industry is set to reach a value of $77.73 billion globally by 2020. That number is based on a very impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3-4%.

Internally, the PCBA market within the United States is expected to grow at a CAGR of 1-2% over the last estimated value of the industry, which stood at $3.53 billion in 2018. It’s clear that the US market still has lot of catching up to do.

China (50%), Taiwan (12.6%) and South Korea (11.6%) have the three largest PCB industries in the world currently. Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are other nations that also have a significant presence in the PCB market, making the entire industry heavily dependent on Asia, which is currently producing more than 90% of the PCBs manufactured in the whole world.

The Popularity of Easy-to-Design PCB Platforms Will Rise

On visiting Gumstix Inc., the user will be prompted to use the Geppetto electronic board designer, which is embedded in the website to help customers design the board they need in mere minutes. This is going to become a more widespread trend in 2020, as more small businesses begin to take advantage of design and order websites. It is to be noted that Gumstix Inc. is not just suited for designing and ordering PCBs but any production-grade electronic board in general.

The Geppetto platform in particular is going to draw in a much wider customer base, because unlike most other digital tools of the kind, the user doesn’t need to have deep knowledge about electronical engineering to design an electronic circuit board with it.

HDI Could Finally Become More Usable

High density interconnect (HDI) printed circuit boards are perfect for tiny electronic devices that require more power, as HDI enables faster signal transmissions without increasing the layers. Unfortunately, manufacturing HDI PCBs is difficult without risking interference, due to the very small availability of space to trace the routes.

However, this is already changing in 2019, because significant breakthroughs have been made. By 2020, it is expected that mass-scale production of more complicated and powerful HDI PCBs will be seen in the market.

Flexible and Semi-Flexible Boards Will Eventually take Over

The flexible and semi-rigid/flexible boards are not just a trend but an evolutionary step for circuit boards in general. Predictions by market leaders point towards the fact that nearly 35% of all manufactured PCBs will either be flexible or semi-flexible/rigid by the end of the second quarter of 2020.

More will be unveiled about the printed circuit board’s foreseeable future as we head towards the end of 2019. Hopefully, there will be good news regarding Every Layer Interconnect (ELIC) and Any Layer Interconnect (ALIC) PCBs as well.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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