Weiner International Associates Consultants- Boards & Advisory Boards of Directors Technology: Commercial Viability Assessment Product Introduction/Marketing
           Weiner International AssociatesConsultants- Boards & Advisory Boards of DirectorsTechnology: Commercial Viability Assessment Product Introduction/Marketing 

 

FEBRUARY 2024

 

A new beginning? Lofty goal makes one think of which came fiorst, the chicken or the egg when one considers the need for IC supply chain infrastructure in India.

 

India gave the go-ahead to construction of three semiconductor plants worth $15.2 billion by firms including Tata Group and CG Power. The country is targeting an IC market of $63 billion by 2026.

 

Another $50+ million HDI facility - in China

 

On February 22, the groundbreaking ceremony for Rex Electronics’ $55 million high-density interconnection printed circuit board production project was held in Qiandeng Town, Kunshan. Xu Meidi, chairman of Rex Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., Ji Junjun, general manager, and Zhu Xiaoliang, deputy secretary of the town party committee and mayor, attended the meeting.

 

Over the years, the company has been deeply involved in the R&D and manufacturing of high-density interconnected multi-layer circuit boards and various types of printed circuit boards. It has 26 "practical" patents.

 

Peter Elstrom, Executive Editor at Bloomberg commented on TSMC's new fab in Japan this month contrasting it with its U.S. activities.
 
I bolded phrases that caught my attention - Gene Weiner
 
"TSMC will officially open its first Japan fab on Saturday, putting it on track to begin mass production later this year. Takashi Mochizuki and Yuki Furukawa take a deep dive into how Japan pulled off an early victory in the race to make more chips domestically. Takeaways and a gift link below:
 
- The success in Japan stems from a combination of factors not easily repeated elsewhere: efficient government support, strict construction timetables and a low-cost workforce that flocked to the site from around the country and then labored 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

- Smoothing the entire effort was a deep partnership with local champion Sony, an investor in and customer for the chip factory. “We committed to getting it ready in two years because that’s what TSMC asked us,” said the local governor. “Being on time is important to win trust.”

- While the US has also courted TSMC — the leading producer of advanced chips — the company has pushed back start dates for both of its planned Arizona facilities after clashes with labor unions and delays in subsidy allocations.

- “The contrast between TSMC in Arizona and in Kumamoto is quite striking,” said Chris Miller, author of Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology. “The Japanese government has been less vocal, but perhaps even more supportive than the US and Europe.”

 

JANUARY 2024

 

Substrates

 

AT&S says it will begin mass producing chip substrate in Kulim, Malaysia, this year, primarily for the U.S.'s Advanced Micro Devices. This will be the first substrate supplier to move to Southeast Asia due to the U.S.-China tech war.
 

Kinsus Technology is also considering building a chip substrate plant in Malaysia.

 

Preparing for the future of ICs

 

ASML Holding NV reported that orders more than tripled last quarter from the previous three months. Bookings rose to a record $9.98 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023. Advanced extreme ultraviolet lithography machines in the period accounted for more than 55% of the new orders.

 

While China.....

 

To counter the ban imposed by the US to slow down its development of advanced semiconductors while ensuring its dominance in general-purpose semiconductors, China is aggressively importing semiconductor materials and components from South Korea. It increased its importation of blank photomasks last year from South Korea by nearly 48% over 2022. South Korea’s semiconductor wafer inspection equipment exports also increased by 40% in 2023. Source: Digitimes

 

India rising

 

A sure sign of growth and future markets: productronica India and electronica India will be held simultaneously in Greater Noida, Delhi, India September 11-13. But, how about those pesky little items such as raw materials, supply chains and infrastructure?  


Meanwhile, "back at the ranch" TSMC says its second factory in Arizona will be delayed again. It is the 2nd setback for the world’s largest chipmaker and its role in the U.S President’s attempt to promote American manufacturing.


The facility, most recently expected to start operations in 2026, will now begin in 2027 or 2028 according to Chairman Mark Liu. He stated that the company needed to review “how much incentives … the US government can provide.”


Meanwhile, TSMC is considering another foundry in Japan.

 

The White House announced $162 million in funds to Microchip Technology from the CHIPS and Science Act to expand operations in Oregon and Colorado. It will be used to triple the company's production capacity and create more than 700 new jobs in the respective states.

 

DECEMBER 2023

 

An expression of confidence coupled with a leap of faith

 

Intel will invest $23 billion to expand its chip factory in southern Israel at Kiryat Gat, northeast of Gaza. Exopanded ooperations are expected to begin in 2028 and last through 2035. The company has already spent $50 billion over the past 50 years to develop its 4 centers in Israel.

 

Samsung Electronics and Dutch semiconductor equipment company ASML will jointly invest $760 million (1 trillion won) to build a semiconductor research plant in South Korea dedicated to developing ultrafine semiconductor manufacturing technologies.

 

Thailand rising

 

Taiwan's mother board maker Elite Computer will build  a new PCB factory in Thailand in response to geopolitics, changes in the global supply chain and customer needs. Elite plans to initiate production there in 2025.

 

China's Shengyi Electronics bought about 120 acres in Thailand to build a production base there. Its purpose is to help the company to respond more flexibly to macro-environmental fluctuations, industrial policy adjustments, and reduce the potential adverse impact that changes in the international trade pattern may have on the company.

 

Shrinking

 

Japan’s PCB output (except for module substrates) has shrunk for 12 consecutive months, and the decline has continued to reach double-digit (more than 10%) levels.

 

Statistics released by the Japan Electronics Packaging Circuits Association (JPCA) on December 15 pointed out that Japan’s printed circuit board (PCB; hard board + flexible board + module substrate) production in October 2023 dropped significantly compared with the same month last year. In terms of type, Japan’s Rigid PCB output fell 17.5% to 636,000 square meters in October from the same month last year, shrinking for the 20th consecutive month. Flexible PCB output dropped 9.7% to 131,000 square meters, shrinking for the fifth consecutive month.

 

Japan’s major PCB suppliers include Ibiden, CMK, NOK’s Nippon Mektron, Fujikura, and Meiko Electronics. source: TPCA

 

 

A report from the HKPCA

 

There were few visitors from overseas, but many from the local China region. Some of the "big brands" such as KLA, MKS, Schmoll, Hitachi, Uyemura,Taiyo and some suppliers from Korea exhibited.

 

There were a lot of equipment and material suppliers from the local Chinese region, especially for laser drills, mechanical drills, direct imaging, and automation system. It seems like all of these local suppliers are doing well in the mainland China market. They are all targeting high end processes such as  AI, 5G, VR, and EVs. These Chinese suppliers are "chasing" America, Japan and Europe in the industry.

 

In summary, the HKPCA show this time was primarily for China-based companies from South China. There were not many prospective customers from Japan, Korea, Taiwan or even other parts of China.

 

Public-private partnering

 

Albany University will receive $1 Billion in funding from New York state for a semiconductor R&D center. The investment will bolster New York’s case for federal grants under the CHIPS and Science Act, which will provide more than $52 billion for semiconductor research and manufacturing. It’s part of a long-term plan wrest control of the industry away from competitors, particularly China.

Under the plan companies, including semiconductor designer IBM and semiconductor manufacturer Micron, will match the state’s $1 billion investment with another $9 billion. Part of that money will go towards the construction of a chip research facility at the University at Albany as well as the purchase of a next-generation lithography machine for making computer chips.

 

China + 1 = India ?????

 

According to a corporate filing to the stock exchanges in India, Dixon said Padget Electronics, its wholly-owned subsidiary, has been awarded a manufacturing contract by Lenovo to carry out manufacturing of notebooks under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for IT hardware 2.0, subject to the signing of definitive agreement in due course. Source: Digitimes


AT&S Establishes New R&D Center for IC Substrates and Packaging Technologies in Styria, Austria.


AT&S is currently completing its new R&D center for IC substrates and packaging technologies in Leoben-Hinterberg. It will start production at the beginning of  2024. The new competence center in Leoben will create a total of 700 new jobs.

This new R&D center with substrate production is an end-to-end clean
room construction. With the ISO 3 and ISO 4 cleanrooms (or cleanroom 1000 and cleanroom 10,000) required for substrate production, these workplaces are cleaner than a hospital’s surgery room, as even the smallest particles of dirt and contamination such as hair or make-up residue endanger the high-tech products. It is therefore fair to say that AT&S has established the cleanest working environment in Styria.

English is established as the corporate language in the multinational working environment at AT&S, but it is not a prerequisite for the production areas.

 

NOVEMBER 2023

 

BIG NEWS !!!! Back-filling the IC supply chain in the U.S.!!!!

 

Amkor Technology announced a new advanced packaging and test facility in Peoria, Arizona. With a $2 billion investment, it's projected to create about 2,000 jobs. This facility, the largest of its kind in the U.S., aims to strengthen domestic semiconductor supply chains and enhance U.S. manufacturing capabilities.

The initiative, supported by
Apple and TSMC, aligns with the U.S. government's focus on rebuilding semiconductor manufacturing, as emphasized in the CHIPS program. The project, backed by local and federal authorities, also includes applying for CHIPS funding. It's part of Amkor's broader strategy to establish a resilient, global supply chain, marking a significant step in reducing dependence on foreign microchip sources.

 

A new start or catch-up?

 

The U.S. Defense Department has awarded nearly $40 million to an advanced electronics manufacturer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Pentagon officials announced.

Under the $39.9 million initiative, Calumet Electronics Corp. will expand its engineering, tooling, and manufacturing capabilities to produce components for advanced printed circuit boards used in national defense applications. The company, in particular, will make “high-density build-up” substrates, including high-density interconnect PCBs and HBDU build-up layers.

The money was allocated through the Defense Production Act Investment Program, which directs incentives to companies in order to bolster critical national security supply chains. The Calumet Electronics Corp. award brings the program’s total 2023 allocations to date to $714 million.

 

OCTOBER 2023

 

From the annual TPCA show

 

Assembly equipment shipments are improving in Asia. However, a considerable amount of the current shipments are coming from orders placed in 2022, with some even placed in 2021. The current order bookings are down by 30-40% so the outlook is gloomy.

 

PCB equipment and materials are doing better. However, the current upswing does not cover weak first half. Most major PCB makers are forecasting minus 10-15% revenue growth in 2023. Stronger recovery is expected in the second quarter of 2024 according to those PCB makers interviewed.  Source: NT Information

 

Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology is working with domestic and overseas semiconductor companies on a project to launch a pilot line of 2-nanometre chips. It is also working with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop an advanced 3D semiconductor packaging technology. These collaborative projects showcase the Japanese government’s ambition to catch up to global leaders that are currently 10 years ahead of Japan in chip manufacturing technology. 

 

SEPTEMBER 2023

 

Did you know???

 

Chinese copper foil maker Londian Wason Energy Tech is reported to be working with Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) in the U.S. They plan to raise around $500 million through the IPO and a pre-IPO funding round. Londian supplies copper wire to major electric vehicle (EV) battery makers, including Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. and BYD Co.

 

Another Chinese PCB company is Following Kinwong Electronics to Thailand

 

Shanghai based Chinese computer products and printed circuit boards provider Founder Technology Group said it will invest $129.6 million to build a smart manufacturing plant in Thailand to mainly produce high multi-layer boards and high-density interconnect boards to help the com[pany improve its business positioning overseas and build up overseas capacities of supplying products to meet the demand of foreign clients.

Founder's first half operating revenue was nearly $209.3 million, down 34% from a year earlier. Net profit $6.7 million) for the six months ended June 30, versus a net loss of $30+ million for the same period last year.

 

GlobalFoundries (GF), the world’s third-largest contract chipmaker, opened a $4 billion manufacturing plant in Singaporenthis mionth. Cosntruction started in 2021. It'll boost capacity by 450,000 wafers to 1.5 million per year by 2026.

 

GF expects AI to be a key cartalyst enabling the industry to double in the next decade. The global semiconductor market is forecasted to be down 10.3% this year recovering to grow 11.8% next year according to World Semiconductor Trade Statistics.

 

Mexico has just surpassed China as the U.S.'s leading trading partner

 

HP is working with suppliers to shift production of millions of consumer and commercial laptops to Thailand and Mexico this year, in the top U.S. computer maker's first substantial move to diversify its personal computer supply chain beyond China.

 

The difference is -----------?

 

The Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun and the local news channel KKT state that TSMC’s subsidiary in Japan, Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM), new factory construction in Kumamoto Prefecture is progressing smoothly with completion expected by year-end.

Employees dispatched from Taiwan are steadily arriving.  About 600 TSMC employees and their family members are scheduled to move in by this month's end. About 130 of their children will attend Kumamoto International School (KIS).  The TSMC Kumamoto wafer factory is expected to employ about 400 (plus 750 family members).

Also, about 200 Japanese engineers from Sony, transferred to work at JASM, are returning to Japan after receiving training in Taiwan. And, there are 125 new graduates who joined JASM in April 2023 that are currently undergoing training in Taiwan. The final total number of JASM employees will be 1,700. 

Mass production is expected to begon before the end of 2024 after the introduction of equipment and installation of production lines.

The construction of TSMC’s Kumamoto wafer fab, personnel recruitment, and the arrival of Taiwanese employees have been relatively smooth compared to TSMC’s construction plan in Arizona, USA. The construction of the Arizona site began in April 2021, one year earlier than the factory in Kumamoto. Although the originally planned production date was also 2024, it has now been delayed to 2025, and personnel recruitment has encountered difficulties.

 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as the new U.S. ban on China's technical investment is slow to develop...

 

Huawei Technologies launched the Mate Pro 60, a new smartphone model, during Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s recent visit to China. Teardowns by research firm TechInsights confirmed that it uses a 7-nm chip made by state-backed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), China’s largest chip maker.

 

Dodging the geopolitical bullet

 

China’s Kinwong Electronics plans to invest $96.4 million in a new factory in Thailand to better serve overseas clients and deal with the adverse impact of possible changes in the global economic and trade environment. Kinwong was the world’s 16th-largest PCB supplier in 2022, having 11 plants across five production bases in China. Exports accounted for about 40% of Kingwong’s $1.4 billion. Its gross profit margin was nearly 28%.

 

Many other Chinese PCB producers, including Huizhou China Eagle Electronic Technology and Aohong Electronics, have also set out plans for factories in Thailand in response to the shifting global supply chain landscape. The focus will be on overseas markets to  better meet the orders of foreign clients, and effectively boost resilience to risk.

 

Near shoring

 

Intel will invest $1.2 billion in Costa Rica over the next two years.to upgrade facilities and prepare operations to enable cutting-edge technologies for upcoming next-generation semiconductor products.

The timing aligns closely with last month’s cooperative agreement between Costa Rica and the U.S. aiming to transform Costa Rica into a regional powerhouse for semiconductor research, manufacturing, and talent development. That agreement opens access to U.S. funding starting in 2024 to position Costa Rica as a hub for this critical high-tech industry.

 

AUGUST 2023

 

The assembly lines at all of Toyota’s auto plants in Japan shut down August 29 over a problem with a computer system. The shutdown affected the 28 assembly lines across 14 Toyota auto plants located throughout Japan.

 

Unions blocking construction of AZ chips plant?

 

TSMC says Arizona construction of its new multi billion dollar facility in Arizona has been delayed by a shortage of skilled workers. It is seeking to bring in workers from Taiwan to get construction back on track. However, 1,500 members of the Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council sent a letter to members of Congress, asking them to block the issuance of visas to Taiwanese workers because “TSMC has shown a lack of respect for American workers."

 

Ensuring the future

 

Lithuania's Teltonika company group launched the construction of a $154 million highly automated state-of-the-art  manufacturing plant in Liepkalnis, Vilnius' future technology park. Contracts with equipment suppliers from Germany, Italy, and Japan are now under negotiation. Completion is expected in December, 2024.

A company spokesman stated that it will enable Teltonika to reduce lead times, minimize supply chain risks, and become independent from third-party political decisions.

 

Mexico 

 

BTU International entered into an exclusive contract with an existing sub-contractor in Mexico with standardized pricing and lead-times to manufacture reflow ovens there.  In addition to the agreement with BTU, the manufacturer has existing business with other industrial and large automotive customers – necessitating compliance with international quality standards. In addition, within the contract manufacturing agreement, BTU’s partner is restricted from making products that directly compete with BTU.   BTU will also leverage this agreement to enable greater capacity and cost savings in the supply chain for its other North American operations.

 

Japan's Kaga Electronics will spend $34 million to build a new EMS assembly plantin the central state of San Luis Potosi. The new plant is part of the company’s plans to expand its contract electronics manufacturing business, especially for the automotive market. It will shut down its old plant and integrate operations into the new 20,000 square meter plantand will employ 2,000 workers - 4 times the current number.

 

How will America provide the PCB platforms, substrates, and chips for the currently surging AI demand?
 
The need is NOW. Not in 3 or 4, or 10 years. 
 

The AI trend is now a worldwide phenomenon, with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang even declaring that “Nvidia is betting everything on AI.” In 2023, the AI server supply chain became one of the few highlights of the tech industry. This has also thrust TSMC’s CoWoS advanced packaging technology, which the company has been working on for over ten years, into the spotlight overnight.

 

Sources in the packaging and testing sector say that TSMC’s 2023 CoWoS production capacity can only increase by 20-30%. This is not enough to satisfy Nvidia’s roaring chip demand. Furthermore, there is also self-developed chip demand from the likes of AMD, Broadcom, Marvell, Amazon, and Meta. However, their priority is no match for Nvidia's.

 

The CoWoS and “quasi-CoWoS” (essentially the 2.5D advanced packaging that has been around for some time) demand from Nvidia alone has taken up most of TSMC’s production capacity. Therefore, Nvidia approached OSATs like Amkor and the ASE Group to inquire about their 2.5D testing and packaging technology.

 

Additionally, with Nvidia paying out of its own pocket to secure the order and production progress of silicon interposers, it has persuaded OSATs that were previously reluctant to be involved with interposer supply to collaborate with Nvidia in 2.5D packaging.

 

The incredibly high demand for TSMC’s advanced packaging meant that companies like Amkor and Siliconware have also benefited from the overflow of orders. It’s estimated that Nvidia’s CoWoS advanced packaging capacity orders over the past two years were divided between TSMC and Amkor with a ratio of 8:2.

 

While Samsung lags behind TSMC and the ASE Group in terms of both testing/packaging technology and capacity, it possesses substantial resources, and despite common claims that Taiwan has the lead in semiconductor technology, the actual gap may only be around 2 to 3 years. Source: Taiwan Digitimes

 

Growing

 

The Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA) announced it has closed the acquisition of the assets of PCBDesign-Edu, Inc., (dba PCE-EDU, Inc.), including its industry leading printed circuit designer training and certification program. The deal extends PCEA’s position as the leading association for training printed circuit engineers worldwide.
The transaction includes the Printed Circuit Engineering Professional curriculum and related Certified Printed Circuit Designer (CPCD) certification exam, licensing agreements and customer database, among other assets, including the 400-page handbook created by the PCE-EDU founders – Mike CreedenStephen Chavez, Gary Ferrari, Rick Hartley and Susy Webb.
“The PCB-EDU founders developed the best training handbook I’ve ever seen for PCB design,” said Mike Buetow, president, PCEA. “There is tight overlap between PCEA and PCE-EDU’s respective missions and approaches. We feel strongly we will be able to expand on the work of the PCE-EDU founders and reach a larger audience for the CPCD curriculum.” “Training and certification are at the core of PCEA’s strategic plan,” said Stephen Chavez, president, PCE-EDU. 
 

It takes two to tango

 

Worsening geopolitical tensions between Beijing and the U.S.-led West have  prompted some Western manufacturers to reduce their reliance on China’s supply chain, which in turn is expected to erode trade ties between the two sides.

The latest data shows China to be on the brink of falling into deflation, a scenario that many fear could drag the economy into a downward spiral.

Asia’s other export powerhouses are also grappling with crumbling global trade demand. South Korea’s exports fell 16.5% year over year in July. Source: WSJ

 

Others are taking action while U.S. electronics firms are trying to get the attention of Congressional members to pass H.R.3249 - Protecting Circuit Boards and Substrates Act. Otherwise, the Chips Act will only lengthen the supply chan needed to package ICs produced as they will still have to be sent to Asia for packaging on substrates and advanced PCBs.        

 

The South Korean government is initiating a major packaging technology R&D project aimed at assisting companies in quickly catching up with international leaders like TSMC in the advanced packaging field. The project will be headed by a former CEO of Amkor Korea, Park Yong-chul.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology indicated that the “Semiconductor Advanced Packaging Leading Core Technology Development Project” will cost $234–390.6 million over a period of 5–7 years. 

The advanced package R&D project can be broadly categorized into two types: catch-up and lead. The R&D project has reportedly already reached the final drafting state and will soon undergo a preliminary review, but industry players are calling for the review process to be exempted or simplified in order for South Korean semiconductor players to faster enhance their chips packaging competitiveness. - Source Digitimes

 

In a related development, Yonhap News Agency has recently reported that South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) has developed an advanced semiconductor chiplet packaging technology that can save 95% of power consumption compared with the current Japanese technology. ETRI has achieved this by utilizing its newly developed materials and lasers, reducing the manufacturing process from nine to three stages. The advancement holds promise for future applications in high-performance AI chips for self-driving vehicles and datacenters.

 

Will RCC rise again?

 

Apple's probable use of resin coated copper (RCC) foil in PCBs in fabricating HDI and UHDI circuitry for its 2024 iPhone series is expected to drive demand up. Iteq jas developed a new RCC product that is has been testing at major fabricators and 5G phione makers for the past year.

 

RCC is considered a viable alternate to ABF in making HDI and UHDI circuitry.

 

JULY 2023

 

On the home front

 

Analog Devices celebrated its more than $1 billion investment to expand its semiconductor wafer fab in Beaverton, Oregon. The Beaverton site is ADI’s largest wafer fabrication facility by volume and serves customers in critical industries, such as industrial, automotive, communications, consumer, and healthcare.

 

The facility investment expands cleanroom space to about 118,000 sq-ft and nearly doubles internal manufacturing of products running on the 180-nanometer technology node and above. It is also expected to create hundreds of new, long-term employment opportunities, a significant increase to ADI’s current roughly 950 employees in Oregon.

 

More than 10% of the total investment is for new, state-of-the-art fab tools intended to increase overall efficiency and utilize chemistries that are more environmentally friendly. Despite nearly doubling production output, the facility is targeting to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 75% and water usage per production unit by approximately 50%.

 

It's time for YOU to join the PCBAA (Printed Circuit Board Association of America). PCBAA member companies, individuals, and Congressmen need your help to pass house bill H.R. 3249 designed to restore America's critical PCB manufacturing industry and to build a domestic substrate capability! It contains tax breaks for purchase of boards made in the USA. It includes R&D funding for UHDI and substrate process development - and more.


YOUR voice is needed! It must be heard in the Halls of Congress to make this happen!!! What are you waiting for? Do not let this opportunity pass. Join now!


I personally welcome my colleague and fellow member of the IPC's Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Dan Feinberg who has joined me as an individual member!
Since the beginning of this year, the topic of AI (artificial intelligence) has swept the world,
TPCA chairman Li Changming believes that HPC (high-speed computing) and AI are the mainstream of future technology. , AI servers will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22% in the future. These applications will use ABF carrier boards in large quantities, and the development of ABF carrier boards will also be carried out in the direction of high-level numbers and large sizes. The process technology threshold is high and there are few manufacturers capable of production.

 

Wake up America! The TPCA says that Thailand will be the next volume location for these advanced PCBs.


H.R. 3249 is needed NOW! Not in some distant future!


Yep, it IS complicated! How does one keep its competitive position in such a large market while protecting its own national defense interests? The Chinese press just announced that US chip giant Intel is increasing its business ties in China with a new innovation hub in Shenzhen meant to help domestic start-ups - even as Washington puts increasing pressure on semiconductor firms to reduce trade with the country. What was the purpose of Kissinger's recent visit to China and meeting with President Xi?


Meanwhile, TSMC announced that its new facility in Arizona will be a year late in initiating operations due to the shortage of the skilled workers needed to run and maintain a complicated advanced IC foundry. TSMC is using its Taiwan staff to train training workers for the Phoenix start-up. In addition, the current American work culture is apparently not as strong as that in Hsinshu.

 

Chinese electronics parts manufacturer Victory Giant Technology Huizhou announed on July,26 that it had agreed to buy Singapore’s flexible printed circuit board maker MFS Technology for $460 million. Victory Giant will pay in cash to acquire Pole Star Limited to indirectly own MFS Technology (S) and all its subsidiaries.
 
Chip designer Qualcomm, has confirmed it will build a new operation in Tijuana Mexico. It is scheduled to open in Q4 of this year.
 

Geopolitical issues???

 

Based on statistics from the Investment Commission under Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, the electronics components industry in Taiwan is the largest sector in terms of either China-bound or foreign investments. In the first four months of 2023, the electronics component industry accounted for 53.9% of Taiwan’s total outbound investments and 48.5% of Taiwan’s investments in China.

 

Additionally, Taiwan’s investments in China shot up 167.8% on year in January-April 2023. Up to now, Taiwan manufacturers have registered an aggregate of 45,000 approved investment cases in China, with their accumulated investment value amounting to $204.0 billion, commanding 56.2% of total government-approved external investments. Accordingly, China firmly remains the top outlet for Taiwanese investments.

 

Despite production relocation pressures from brand customers and geopolitical factors, it is difficult for Taiwanese companies to completely uproot and transplant their production lines from China to other countries, given the factors such as industrial clusters, logistics, infrastructure and human resources management. The recent severe power shortage in northern Vietnam has significantly affected operations of foreign and Taiwanese manufacturers that have relocated their plants to the region. 

 

Taiwan’s deputy economics minister Chern-Chyi Chen has previously pointed out that economic and trade interactions between both sides of the Taiwan Straits is mutually beneficial and complementary, playing a crucial role in the regional and even global supply chains as well as global stability and prosperity. It is generally believed that Blinken’s visit to China can reduce misjudgments between China and the US, avoid the outbreak of military conflicts and maintain the status quo of the Taiwan Straits.

 

Industry observers said that bilateral investment and trade exchanges between Taiwan and China are expected to ramp up steadily, especially once US-China and cross-strait relationships improve. - source: Digitimes

 

 

JUNE 2023

 

Intel's spending spree

 

Intel has signed an agreement in principle with the Israeli government to invest in a $25 billion chip manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Intel investment was “unprecedented” in that it is the largest investment ever by a global private company in the country.

 

Intel also announced plans to invest $4.6 billion for a semiconductor assembly/test facility near Wrocław, Poland'. The site which will employ 2,000, will help to meet anticipated demand for assembly and test capacity. Intel’s planned investment in Poland, combined with its existing wafer fabrication facility in Leixlip, Ireland, and its planned $33 billion wafer fabrication facilities (2) in Magdeburg, Germany*, will help create a first-of-its-kind end-to-end leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing value chain in Europe. It is also expected serve as a catalyst for additional ecosystem investments and innovation in Poland and across the European Union.

 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the Magdeburg investment as Germany's biggest ever foreign investment. Berlin has agreed to provid Intel with subsidies worth nearly $11 billion.

 

What's going on?

 

There are power shortages in North Vietnam. Mexico stopped granting visas to Chinese engineers seeking to travel there to train Mexican workers in booming high-tech factories. Reports from China continue to show broad sluggish performance with PCB and EMS segments of the electronics industry with problems associated with getting component and parts.

 

Yet, Micron, the biggest U.S. memory chipmaker, just said it was committed to China and would invest $603 million over the next few years in its chip packaging facility in the city of Xian. Last month it was targeted by China’s cyberspace regulator, which said the firm had failed a network security review. The Chinese regulator added that it would block operators of key infrastructure from buying from the company. Micron made no mention of the regulator’s decision in its June 16 statement, posted on WeChat.

“This investment project demonstrates Micron’s unwavering commitment to its China business and team,” it quoted CEO Sanjay Mehrotra as saying. The investment will include buying packaging equipment from a Xian-based subsidiary of Taiwan’s Powertech Technology Inc.


In the first four months of 2023, the electronics component industry accounted for 53.9% of Taiwan’s total outbound investments and 48.5% of Taiwan’s investments in China. Additionally, Taiwan’s investments in China shot up 167.8% on year in January-April 2023 according to the Investment Commission under Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs.

 

Japan

 

Dr. Hayao Nakahara reports that a number of major PCB makers in Japan have exited their JPCA membership.  CMK, NOK (Nippon Mektron), Ibiden and other former stalwarts of the JPCA  are no longer members and did not exhibit at this year's event in Tokyo. One must wonder why, and whether or not they belong to other printed circuit associations, and of so, which ones. 

PCB fabricators, equipment suppliers and material providers that did participate showed advanced technologies - especially products for IC substrates - an area in which Japan dominates.

 

Japan’s Meiko Electronics is planning to invest $200 million to build a fourth PCB factory in Vietnam. Meiko has so far invested $500 million in three factopries there. It employs 7,000 and contributes $30 million annually to the local state budget.

The three are located in the Thach That-Quoc Oai Industrial Zone and Thang Long Industrial Park in Hanoi, and Phuc Dien Industrial Zone in Hai Duong province, all in northern Vietnam.

On a global scale, Meiko recorded a net income of $63.33 million on net sales of $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2022, down 22.7% and up 10.6%, respectively, according to the firm’s financial results.

 

Hong Kong

 

The HKPCA continues to support its members by arranging a mission to Thailand this month as members continue to seek sites for its PCB operations. It will also present the Webinar "Development of Advanced Packaging Technology and Discussion of Common Problems of Processes in IC Substrate" to help provide up-to-date solutions to today's UHDI and organic substrate challenges. The Webinar will Introduce the production process of  IC substrates and discuss common problems in the process of substrate manufacturing.

 

China

 

There is no dearth of companies seeking business in China in spite of the geopolitical trade issues. More than 1,050 companies have signed up to exhibit in SEMICON China 2023 in Shanghai late this month. These inlude a number of subsidiaries of "Western" and other (including Japanese) companies."

 

Aohong Electronics, a Chinese printed circuit board maker based in Changzhou, will build a new $83.7 million plant in Thailand to better serve its overseas clients. Production will start in 2026.

Aohong's overseas clients include LG Electronics, Whirlpool, and General Electric. It has two production bases in China with a total annual output of four million square meters of PCBs for home appliances, consumer electronics, power sources, network communications, and vehicle electronics.

 

MAY 2023

Bloomberg reported that Ford Motor Co. will start to import from China the Lincoln Nautilus. The restyled hybrid SUV will be marketed in the U.S. in 2024. As other companies are abandoning the PRC, Ford seems to be deepening the connections it already has. The Nautilus will become the first vehicle model that Ford will import from China.

 

Taiwan, one of the world’s most important exporters of hi-tech gear has fallen into recession, owing to a drop in global demand for consumer electronics and trouble in major world markets.

 

Taiwan’s highest authority in charge of the budget – the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics – estimated that the world’s 21st-largest economy shrank by 3.02% from January through March, year on year, and by 6.37% compared with the final three months of last year.

 

“Broad-based weakness in external demand for Taiwan’s exports of electronic products and information and communication technology equipment will persist at least in the coming quarter,” said George Xu, director of sovereigns for the Fitch Ratings credit agency.

 

 

APRIL 2023

 

Sounds like a tough balancing act - remember that it takes two to tango!

 

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the Biden administration is working to “de-risk,” not “decouple,” from China, making the case that the administration’s industrial strategy is crucial to competing with its geopolitical rival.

“De-risking fundamentally means having resilient effective supply chains, and ensuring we cannot be subject to the coercion of any other country,” Sullivan said in remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington that the White House billed as a major economic address.

The U.S. is focused on making sure that no event, from a global pandemic to a war, can deprive the world’s largest economy of what it needs, Sullivan said.

Export controls are narrowly aimed at technology that could be used to tilt the military balance against the U.S. rather than cutting off trade, which climbed to a record last year, Sullivan said.

“These are tailored measures,” Sullivan said. “They are not, as Beijing says, a technology blockade. They are not targeting emerging economies.”

He touted measures including the Chips and Science Act to bring high-end semiconductor production to the U.S. Source: Bloomberg

 

Dodging the bullet

 

The China Printed Circuit Association (CPCA) plans to make Thailand its new electronic equipment manufacturing base in a move to avoid the impact of the China-US trade war and geopolitical conflicts, according to the Thailand Board of Investment (BoI).

“China is seeking new investment and production destinations, following worries over the trade war and increasing tension between China and Taiwan, which are considered business risks,” said Narit Therdsteerasukdi, secretary-general of the BoI.

Chinese businesspeople believe Thailand has the potential to become the electronics hub of Asean because the government is promoting investments in targeted industries, notably electric vehicles and smart electronics.

Representatives of more than 60 companies under the CPCA met the BoI between April 19-22 to discuss investment prospects and incentives in the country.

Two companies - ASKPCB and WUS Printed Circuit (Kunshan) - are planning to invest in Thailand, with a total investment value of around $350 million. They will also bring 200 suppliers in the electronics supply chain to Thailand!

The CPCA has 800 members, including manufacturers of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and special electronics equipment, as well as experts from academic and research institutes. 

The electronic and PCB industry in China is reported to have a market value of over $49.8 billion and employs up to 620,000 workers.

 

Mr Narit said the BoI would continue to encourage more PCB manufacturers to invest in Thailand and plans to meet 30 PCB companies from Hong Kong in June, and 10 PCB companies from Taiwan in July. Thailand needs PCBs and electronic equipment as the country is promoting EVs and digital technology.

Last year, the cabinet approved a package of incentives, including tax cuts and subsidies, to promote EV consumption and production between 2022 and 2023.

According to officials, a plan to build a Silicon Tech Park, expected to be a model for Thai digital cities, is set to start this year in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

The project, dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the East” was co-developed by Planet Communications Asia Plc, Cisco and the EEC Office.

The BoI is implementing a five-year investment promotion strategy, which starts in 2023, to support investments in high technology, green and smart industries, as well as businesses driven by creativity and innovation. Source: SyndiGate Media Inc. 

 

 

Organic substrates

 

Taiwan-based BT and ABF substrate suppliers expect their sales to hit bottom for 2023 in the second quarter before heading for a gradual recovery in demand from the second half. BT substrate suppliers expect their capacity utilization rate to fall by over 7% sequentially to below 60% in the second quarter, while ABF players will see their utilization drop to 80% with flat ASPs.

However, overall substrate demand for HPC and AI applications remains robust. The supply of ABS substrate can become tight in the second half due to increasing demand for heterogeneous integration and chiplet applications.

Most makers will likely slow down their expansion momentum this year, although some new production facilities will still become available.

Nevertheless, the sources said that the top four substrate players, Unimicron, Nanya PCB, Kinsus Interconnect Technology, and Zeng Ding Technology, will continue to strive for new product developments.

Nanya is optimistic about the long-term demand for substrate products from the electric vehicle (EV), datacenter, HPC, and 5G sectors, while Kinsus believes that high-speed computing products are a promising growth driver.

Zhen Ding CEO DZ Lee stated that related substrate demand for AI, server, and high-end autonomous driving mainboards will continue to grow. Source: Digitimes Asia

 

Germany’s Bosch Group has agreed to buy key assets of California chip manufacturer TSI Semiconductors and invest $1.5 billion to expand U.S. production of silicon carbide chips for electric vehicles. Bosch said it will retool TSI’s chip production facilities in Roseville, California to start producing silicon carbide chips by 2026.

Bosch said that the investment “will be heavily dependent on federal funding opportunities” through the CHIPS act as well as state subsidies, Bosch said in a statement.

Demand for silicon carbide semiconductors is growing by 30% annually. That demand has led to a surge in investment in the chips. US-based Wolfspeed Inc. is building new plants to make silicon carbide chips in New York State and in Germany. Onsemi Corporation is also investing heavily in silicon carbide and has signed a strategic agreement with Volkswagen to supply chips to the automaker.

 

A contract chip maker backed by China’s top foundry is seeking to raise $1.4 billion in one of the world’s biggest initial public offerings so far this year, as Beijing doubles down on efforts to develop its semiconductor industry amid heightened tech rivalry with the US. Semiconductor Manufacturing Electronics Shaoxing (SMES) is offering 1.69 billion shares to raise the $1.4 billion. It will be the year’s second-biggest IPO in Asia-Pacific after Nexchip Semiconductor’s $1.67 billion fundraising on the Star Market on April 18.

 

AT&S has started construction of a facility to establish the first research and production center for IC substrates in Europe!

 

Even Chinese PCB firms are doing it - building new facilities outside of the PRC

 

Sihui Fuji Electronics Technology earmarked $72 million to build a new printed circuit board factory in Thailand, it said Tuesday. The Chinese printed circuit board supplier said the new factory will allow it to respond to the needs of its overseas customers and further expand its international business as its production capacity is currently concentrated in China.

 

MARCH 2023

 

News from Taiwan

 

International and major IC substrate vendors are still proceeing with their long-term investment plans, and as the delivery times for ABF substrate  production equipment is rather long, their suppliers still see momentum for stable growth in 2023.

 

Group Up Industrial (GP) sees order visibility extend to the first and second quarter of 2024, and it has an optimistic outlook for business in 2023, which it said will not be worse than 2022.

 

C Sun said that in the next three to five years, a total of 82 wafer fabs will establish new production capacity, which will be a strong support for the IC substrate market. Although Taiwanese suppliers are collectively the leader in the ABF substrate market, there is strong challenge from Chinese competitors.

 

Industry sources said at least 30 wafer fabs are still being built in China, which will boost demand for IC substrates as well as demand for production equipment.

 

Taiwanese and Japanese firms are more conservative about expanding capacity than their Chinese competitors, the sources said. But in general, C Sun said, the short-term headwinds are not deterring makers from increasing their capacity for making IC substrates.

 

GP said the impact of the US Chips Act has boosted equipment demand from the US, Europe and China, as American clients are asking their suppliers to relocate their production lines out of China. The US-China trade war is also prompting Taiwanese firms to redirect their deployments to Southeast and South Asia.

 

Many substrate makers are making plans to move their facilities from China to Southeast Asia. But equipment vendors said their capacity may not be able to fully support their clients’ needs if they move too quickly. - Source: Digitimes

 

From the PRC 

 

Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengei said that the company has replaced more than 13,000 parts with domestic substitutes in its products that were hit by U.S. trade sanctions. He also stated that Huawei has redesigned 4,000 circuit boards for its products and that production of circuit boards had “stabilized".

 

Liu He, one of the vice premiers of China, said in a meeting in Beijing that Chinese President Xi Jinping urged to mobilize national resources, including public and private, to develop the semiconductor industry in China. Regarding the public sector, according to He, Beijing will formulate policies with pragmatic goals, assist entrepreneurs, attract long-term investments, and provide equal preferential policies for domestic talents and national treatment to foreign experts to introduce and train people needed for the industry.

 

Japan

 

MKS Instruments announced a major investment in its Yokohama Technical Center (YTC) in Japan that will help its customers improve yields and develop the next generation of  substrates for advanced packaging. It includes dedicated lasers, optics, and motion systems for high precision, high-speed via formation in ABF build-up laminates, in combination with the latest process chemistry and equipment for desmear and electroless copper metallization. 

 

February 2023

 

More support for 3D additive manufacturing

 

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division has awarded $1.6 Million to Mercury Systems, Raytheon, Charles Stark Draper, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and Lockheed Martin to produce a prototype that will further Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Technology Protection (TP) collaboration through enhanced capabilities focused on novel sensors, secure packaging, and integrated board-level protection. Through the AMP HTP prototype project, the DoD Anti-Tamper experts are seeking to build upon 3D structures. The focus tech areas in this prototype project include advancements to additive manufacturing (AM), technology protection (TP), 3D printing, hybrid printed electronics, printed electronics, hardware protection, and volume protection.

 

Texas Instruments will invest $11 billion to build a 2nd semiconductor plant in Lehi, Utah. The new 300mm fab will create 800 new jobs. TI will also put anoher $49 million toward improving "student opportunities and outcomers." The announcement of the new Utah plant is the latest large domestic IC investment since the signing of the CHIPS and Science Act last year.

 

General Motors has signed a long-term agreement with GlobalFoundries to establish exclusive production capacity of U.S.-produced semiconductor chips.

The deal, which they’re calling an industry first*, comes as automakers continue to battle through supply chain problems, including a years-long global shortage of semiconductor chips that has sporadically idled factories during the Covid pandemic.

The chip manufacturer will establish dedicated production capacity exclusively for key auto suppliers of the Detroit automaker at its semiconductor facility in upstate New York.

* In November 2022, Ford said that it had signed a nin-binding agreement to ciollabiorate on oriduction and technology advabncements with semicionductor supplier GlobalFoundries.

 

From India

 

India's commerce department has initiated investigation into dumping allegations on imports of certain printed circuit boards (PCBs) originating from China and Hong Kong. The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR), part of the Commerce and Industry Ministry, in a notification on Tuesday said the Indian Printed Circuit Association (IPCA) had alleged material injury to the domestic PCB industry owing to the dumping of these electronic goods and sought the imposition of anti-dumping duty on such imports from the two jurisdictions.

India imported PCBs worth $478 million from China and Hong Kong during the April-October 2022 period.

 

From the TPCA (Taiwan Printed Circuit Assiociation)

 

In 2023, the PCB market will face the big environmental challenges, consumer electronics, PC/NB, mobile phones have not yet warmed up, but the industry expects the second half to improve. 

For the electronics supply chain, if the economic and consumer demand resumes growth in the second half of the year, it is estimated that the global PCB output value still has the opportunity to maintain a slight growth of 3%, and the total output value is $90.84 billion. However, if one-third of the world’s economies fall into recession, the overall PCB output value does not rule out facing a contraction dilemma, and it is prudent to predict that it will bring a recession resulting in a global PCB value of about $90.01.

 

January 2023

 

I am sad to announce that the industry has lost another icon this month. John T. (Jack) Fisher's long career at IBM, the IPC, the HDPUG (High Density Packaging Users Group), and noted iNemi roadmap chairman greatly impacted the printed circuit industry. Jack was a mentor and friend to many. He shall be greatly missed. He was a inducted into the IPC's Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame in 2006.

RIP, my friend, Jack.

 

Are we headed for fewer than 100 PCB fabricators ibn the U.S.?

 

2022 ended with a whimper with Gartner reporting a major drop in PC sales in Q4 of 28.5% while 2023 began with the announced acquisition of Advanced Circuits by ACPT for more about $220 million. 

 

Dell Technologies is planning to stop using Chinese-made chips next year and has told suppliers to reduce the amount of other made-in-China components in its products. Source: Nikkei

Dell has also asked suppliers of other components, such as electronic modules and PCBs, as well as product assemblers to help prepare capacity in countries beyond China, such as Vietnam, the report said.

 

Taiwan PCB makers and suppliers such as Taiwan Printed Circuit Board Techvest (TPT), Taiflex Scientific, Elite Materials, Iteq, Flexium Interconnect, and Chin Poon Industrial are reported to be planning to initiate or increase their investments in Vietnam to meet the future needs of global suppliers  Foxconn, Qisda, Luxshare, and possibly even Dell.

 

December 2022

 

This month, Dr. William A. LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainability (USD (A&S)) said at the 2022 Reagan National Defense Forum, "We need all hands on deck - everyone from the large primes to the small start-up."

He also stated, "We need our designers and innovators on the front end to help us out on the back end to consider production."

 

One More time!

 

The HKPCA's International Electronics Circuit Exhibition (Shenzhen) has announced a rescheduled show date of 24 – 26 May 2023 (Wednesday to Friday) at Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center (Bao’an) - if the Government and Covid do not postpone it again.

Wu's on the March

 

WUS Printed Circuit, which supplies printed circuit boards to Huawei Technologies and others, and had earlier announced plans to spend $280 million building a new PCB production base in Thailand to help overseas clients sidestep geopolitical and trade risks announced another major move that will strengthen its global reach. 

Schweizer Electronic AG successfully concluded negotiations to sell around 57% of the shares in its subsidiary Schweizer Electronic (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd. based in Jintan/China (“SEC”) to WUS Printed Circuit (Kunshan) Co., Ltd. WUS currently holds a stake of around 13% in SEC and will hold 70% of the shares in SEC upon closing of the transaction.

WUS subsequently intends to carry out a capital increase at the Jintan site, which will provide SEC with sufficient funds to ensure further growth investments without restrictions. As a result, WUS’s share in SEC will increase to approximately 80%.

 

Sustio Sdn Bhd (SSB), a Malaysia-based subnsidiary of South Korea's Simmtech is spending $50 million to fast-track an expansion of its Penang production lines. Completion is expected during the first quarter of 2023.

Simmntech is a leading global manufacturer of semiconductor substrates, and a high density interconnect (HDI) PCBs. The expansion will double its HDI production capacity while creating 400 jobs.

 

Fastprint Circuit Tech, a Shenzhen-based maker of printed circuit boards said it will pay $129 million to acquire a Chinese subsidiary of Japan's Ibiden

Ibiden, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of PCBs, established its China subsidiary in 2000. The unit, which has more than 1,300 employees, makes motherboards for leading smartphone suppliers, according to its website. 

 

Better late than never

 

The Indian government has cleared a $10 billion package to boost semiconductor and display manufacturing. The program aims to provide attractive incentive support to companies / consortia that are engaged in Silicon semiconductor fabs, display fabs, compound semiconductors / silicon photonics / sensors (including MEMS) fabs, semiconductor packaging (ATMP / OSAT), semiconductor design. Additionally, incentives worth $30.16 billion will be available to position India as global hub for electronics manufacturing.

The US deputy assistant secretary, South and Central Asia, Afreen Akhter, is leading a trade mission of semiconductors industry to India and has had meetings with India’s top government officials. The US intends to support India overcome challenges in the semiconductor supply chain and boost its local semiconductor manufacturing capacity. The US publicly seeking to strengthen its partnerships with “like-minded countries” like India and Taiwan.

ISMC’s proposed $3 billion semiconductor fab may begin construction in Karnataka by February 2023, as per media reports. It will be 4-5 years till ISMC’s plant becomes operational.

The government in India is committed to building the entire electronics ecosystem in India. The Union minister of state for entrepreneurship, skill development, electronics and technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar, while addressing a session on ‘India’s role in Electronics & Semiconductor Manufacturing -said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target to increase production in the electronics sector to $300 billion by 2025-26, a “26 times” increase in a period of 10 years. 

 

November 2022

 

From the TPCA

 

November 7, 2022: The Hehong high-density printed circuit board project with a total investment of $137.8 MILLION has officially started construction!build a new plant and auxiliary buildings of 78,000 square meters, and build a fully automatic printed circuit board production line with new automatic LDI exposure machine, semi-automatic exposure machine, X-ray inspection machine, automatic drying film line, automatic grinding machine, semi-automatic printing machine, super large table 6-axis drilling machine and other equipment.

With the accelerated evolution of a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial revolution, high-density printed circuit boards will be widely used in new energy vehicles, 5G communications, industrial control and other fields, and are the core and cornerstone of the electronic information terminal industry.

After the project is fully completed and put into operation, it is expected to produce 1.2 million square meters of automotive and 5G high-density printed circuit boards per year, achieve invoice sales of $165 million, and profits and taxes of  $19.3 million.

 

October 2022

 

The IPC's Advanced Packaging Symposium: Building the IC Substrate & Package Assembly Ecosystem held in Washington, D.C. was reported to be a resounding success with more than 90 companies and 150 industry and government leaders discussing substrates, OSATs and other critical issues facing American companies engaged in advanced electronic packaging. There seemed to be a consensus that when considering what is important to future domestic markets that there should be a focus on developing high mix-low volume systems materials, processes and equipment - especially for medical, defense and communications needs. A spirit of cooperation was highly visible amongst attendees.

 

Have you read US House of Representatives HR7677 "Supporting American PCB's Act of 2022"? Do you think it supports the development and manufacture of advanced electronic packaging and interconnects of the future? Or do its clauses relegate the U.S. to the past, remaining dependent on offshore suppliers for advances in materials, processes, PCBs, substrates and chip packaging?
In our opinion, at a first reading, corrective and broadening/enlightening amendments seem to be urgently required.

 

Fuji introduced the FPM-Trinity 3D printer at Techblick in Holland. It has 3 functions: Resin printing, circuit printing, and part placement. It is currently underdevelopment, and the company states that it plans to bring it to market in a year or two.

 

September 2022

 

Dateline September 30 - source The IPC

 

"Two of the electronics industry’s most far-sighted and innovative leaders have been named to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s new Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC), which will provide guidance to the Secretary of Commerce on a range of issues related to CHIPS for America Act programs. 

Meredith LaBeau, the Chief Technology Officer at Calumet Electronics in Calumet, Michigan, and Carol Handwerker, the Reinhardt Schuhmann, Jr. Professor of Materials Engineering and Professor of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University, are among the first batch of nominees to be named. Both Handwerker and LaBeau have participated in IPC’s Thought Leaders Program, standards development and other IPC activities. They were chosen for their expertise in semiconductor fabrication and advanced packaging.

IPC and the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) jointly nominated the pair, and electronics manufacturing is well represented on the panel in other ways. Several other panel members are associated with IPC member companies Analog Devices, Microsoft, and Intel

The IAC, established by Congress under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, will provide federal officials with advice on the science and technology needs of the nation’s domestic microelectronics industry; the research and development programs funded through the CHIPS for America Act, including an advanced packaging program that IPC has advocated for; and opportunities for new public-private partnerships."

 

The IPC's Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Council supports IPC’s Advanced Packaging Initiative. As a member of the Hall of Fame, I understand the importance of meeting the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s advanced packages. Learn more at IPC’s first Advanced Packaging Symposium: Building the IC-Substrate and Package Assembly Ecosystem, Oct. 11-12, Washington, D.C. Registration is now open: https://hubs.li/Q01kR-D70

Gene H. Weiner

 

How times have changed!

 

The September edition of NEPCON JAPAN concluded with just 183* exhibitors and 16,247* visitors  - a good showing but a mere fraction of pre-Covid NEPCON Japan (Tokyo) events.

*Including concurrent shows: RoboDEX, SMART FACTORY Expo, and AUTOMOTIVE WORLD.

 

Granite Partners has merged its holdings in Printed Circuits and All Flex into one company named All Flex Solutions, Inc. 

 

COVID continues to shut down electronic events in China

 

The Taiwan Circuit Board Association (TPCA) announced the postponement of the International Circuit Board Exhibition - Shenzhen, better known as TPCA Show-Shenzhen. The trade group cited the "current severe situation of epidemic prevention and control in Shenzhen," and said it is taking the measures "in order to maximize the health and life safety of exhibitors, visitors and partners." TPCA Show Shenzhen was originally scheduled to be held Sept. 14 to 16 at the Shenzhen World Convention and Exhibition Center.

 

It's a prime time for skilled retirees and consultants! UPWORK states that businesses that engage independent talent are already seeing the benefits of embracing a more adaptable strategy while countering the skilled labor shortage. This may become necessary as more enterprises move towards advance packages. Chips with a 40 nanometer (nm) node typically require 1 layout engineer per 4 design engineers. Developing a package with a 5 nm node IC requires 4 layout engineers per 4 design engineers. This also raises the question as to when is such an advanced chip needed (e.g., MUST use less power?) - especially when there is a shortage of qualified engineers. Other (less expensive) design solutions that meet the required performance are often available. It's up to the package provider to fully discuss this topic and alternatives with the (OEM or Tier 1) buyer!

 

August 2022

 

Sound familiar?

 

A PCB fabricator company president asked his purchasing manager to investigate someone with new processes and materials so that he would have a better chance of becoming a qualified vendor for an overseas OEM that was seeking American sources of its boards. The board-maker's first submitted samples had failed testing by the OEM and the company president wanted to prevent this reoccurance.

The buyer's first question to the new potemtial supplier was reported to be, 'What's the price?'' - not, "What process changes should we make? What can this new material do for us?Can it help us qualify and increase first pass yields? Improve our quality? Reduce rework or inspection? Lower our total costs?"

When asked why he needed the price before obtaining technical, process, or product information he responded, "We are not going to let our engineers evaluate new materials unless priced competitively to those that we are now using!"

All in all, a very discouraging saga. Discouraging because the President's philosophy and desires to improve so that his company can survive and profit in a competitive environment where geographical distinctions are continuing to blur, do not appear to be accepted or understood by his company's key interface to its supply chain. Discouraging because the loss of profit by sub-optimization could, in this case, be so easily rectified, but is not. We are saddened by the buyer's myopia. "Weiner's World", March 1990.

 

July 2022

 

Betting on the come?

 

SkyWater Technology announced plans to build a $1.8 billion U.S. semiconductor R&D and production facility in Indiana through a dynamic public-private partnership with the State and Purdue University to pursue CHIPS (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) for America Act funding. The Indiana facility, to be located on the Purdue campus in the Discovery Park District, will provide access to SkyWater’s development services, volume production and heterogeneous integration solutions the company currently offers in its Minnesota and Florida facilities.“This endeavor to bolster our chip fabrication facilities will rely on funding from the CHIPS Act. Federal investment will enable SkyWater to more quickly expand our efforts to address the need for strategic reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing,” said Thomas Sonderman, SkyWater president and CEO.

 

What do YOU think?

 

Did you see the featured article "Two Reasons Why Tech Companies Should Look To Expand Into The China Market" in the July 22 EMS NOW written by Carl Hung, Season Group president and CEO? Season, founded in Hong Kong and now headquartered in the UK is a global EMS company with other related electronic services.
 

Good news, but - This does not help America's supply chain issues or alleviate dependency by domestic printed circuit on foreign on foreign sources

 

Denkai America, America's only manufacturer of high-quality electrodeposited (ED) copper foil used in printed circuits, will locate its new manufacturing facility and North American Headquarters in Georgia. The company’s initial investment will be $150 million to establish an ED copper foil production facility, with a focus on electric vehicle (EV) battery foil, on a 115-acre site, with a goal to invest a total of $430 million and create 250 new jobs over the next five years.

 

I am excited to be presenting "An Additive, Semi-Additive, and Fully Additive 3D Circuit Manufacturing UpDate" at the AME Academy in Boston, MA on July 29th! Progress on many fronts is rapidly advancing.  You can join me in person at the Northeastern SMART Center or online. Just register your participation here: https://ame-academy.com/july-2022-summer-session?hsLang=en

 

Taiwan-based Nan Ya PCB reported unaudited sales of $184.7 million in June 2022, up by 5.6% from the previous month and by 30% year-on-year. Total sales for the first half of the year was $994.9 million, up by 27.45% over the same period last year. For the 2nd quarter, Nan Ya's sales totaled $507.9 million, up by 21.6% for the same period last year.

 

June 2022

 
Do you have anything related to additive or semi-additive manufacturing of electronic circuits/packages that you would like mentioned in my *AME Academy presentation at Northeastern University in Boston next month? If so contact me ASAP as I am currently finalizing the presentation. A few Power Point slides would be helpful.
* (Additively Manufactured Electronics)
 
A growing China alternative
 

Vietnam and its 94 million people are becoming a leading electronics manufacturing center outside of China for many first-tier IT companies. During the period 2015-2020, Vietnam's manufacturing industry saw foreign direct investments  totaling $376 billion with Samsung Electronics contributing one-fourth. 

Intel established its largest chip packaging factory in Vietnam, while LG Electronics, in 2021, announced a $1 billion in Vietnam's Haiphong for expanding its OLED display capacity. Samsung Electronics is also constructing an R&D center in Hanoi. Qualcomm's only testing laboratory in Southeast Asia is also in Hanoi.

So far, Vietnam has a total of 335 industrial parks and is expanding these to satisfy rising demand from foreign investors.

 
More merger mania
 

Denmark's GPV and Enics announced a pending merger to form the continent's second-largest EMS company with more than 7,500 employees and annual revenue of more than $990 million.

Bo Lybæk, CEO, GPV said, "In 2018, we successfully acquired the Swiss electronics manufacturer CCS, which had revenue of DKK 1.6 billion. That lifted GPV into the top 10 of EMS companies in Europe."

Enics has seven factories in Europe and Asia across Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Slovakia, China, and Malaysia, while GPV has 12 factories located in Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Enics is focused on electronics manufacturing and test, while GPV also specializes in product application design, in-house mechanics, and cable-harness assemblies. 

 

To the rescue!

 

Taiwan’s GlobalWafers will invest $5 billion in a new Texas plant to provide silicon wafers to Intel, TSMC. It will create 1,500 U.S. jobs. GlobalWafers will also be eligible for a piece of the $52 billion for the IC industry being negotiated in Congress - if and when it passes. Where are the American investors?

 

Chips
 
Shenzhen SwaySure Technology, a newly created chip start-up owned by the Shenzhen government has recruited Yukio Sakamoto, former chief executive of Japanese DRAM maker Elpida Memory and more recently at Tsinghua Unigroup, as its chief strategy officer to help China take a bigger share of the global DRAM market dominated by US and South Korean players.
 

Samsung Foundry announced a massive investment plan of around $355 billion that could help it overthrow TSMC as the world’s biggest chip fabrication firm. To counter those moves, TSMC has announced an investment of around $120 billion. As a part of that plan, it is building four new fabs worth $10 billion each in Taiwan. According to Nikkei Asia, all 4 new fabrication plants are intended for 3nm chips. Both TSMC and Samsung Foundry are trying to attract AMD, Apple, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and MediaTek with their advanced nodes, including 3nm and 5nm. Both firms are already manufacturing 4nm chips. Samsung Foundry and TSMC have announced their plans to manufacture 3nm chips later this year. By 2025, both firms are planning to mass-produce 2nm chips. While Samsung is bringing advanced GAA technology with its 3nm process, TSMC will bring it with its 2nm process. Only time will tell which brand will be the market leader.

 
Nero, Rome is burning !!! 
 
Meanwhile, S. 1260 The United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 which includes $52 billion in support for America's chip industry seems to be languishing in DC.
 
On the march
 
Lenovo (China) opened a new assembly plant in Hungary capable of producing more than 1,000 servers and 4,000 workstations a day-each one built specifically to customer requirements.
 

Da Nang's government has approved an investment of $59 million by the US's Vector Fabrication for a PCB and micro-electro-mechanical systems factory. Construction of the 40,000-square-meter factory will start this year, with production to begin in 2025.

Vector Fabrication's customers include Apple, Logitech and Tesla Motor. This will be Vector's 2nd factory in Vietnam.

 

VFP Ink Technology has entered into a license and m,anufacturing agreement with Nazdar to produce and distribute VPF's electronic ink for the conductive printing market in the US.

 

The printed electronics market is expected to grow from $10.02 billion in 2021 to $39.54 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 19.1% during the forecast period 2022-2029 according to a new GreyViews (India) report. The report cites Samsung Electronics, LG Display, Molex, LLC, Agfa-Gevaert Group, Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated, DuPont de Nemours, Nissha, BASF, NovaCentrix, and E Ink Holdings, among others, as significant players operating in the global printed electronics market. 

 

High entry barriers (costs) are not detering even mid-sized Taiwan companies from expanding HDI capacity to meet demands greater than supplies for maturing processes for mobile phone motherboards, high-end laptop (NB), automotive electronics, and other growing applications.  Bocheng, Dynamic and Teding will increase HDI production capacity this year to meet the burgeoning market demand.

 

Meanwhile, S 1260 The United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021

 

MAY 2022

 

Can you imagine this in America?

 

China has ordered central government agencies and state-backed corporations to replace *foreign-branded personal computers with domestic alternatives within two years, marking one of Beijing's most aggressive efforts to eradicate key overseas technology from within sensitive institutions. Source: Taipei Times

*The number one brand in China is Lenovo which was once owned by America's IBM.

 

A gem from Jennie

 

"The bottom-line is to not rely on unreliable sources; and the ultimate challenge is to not create solutions that are worse than the problems." - Dr. Jennie S. Hwang

 

From the HKPCA

 

After a series of negotiation with Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center (Bao’an Hall), the Organizing Committee was finally given a date. The International Electronics Circuit Exhibition (Shenzhen) can now be rescheduled to 27 – 29 June 2022 (Monday to Wednesday) at Halls 13 – 16 of the Bao’an Hall. The event will also be conducted virtually.

 

It ain't over until ....

 

Bosch has suspended production at two sites in Shanghai and Changchun as it follows government policies to contain a surge of COVID-19 cases. It has "paused" production at a Thermotechnology factory in Shanghai and an automotive components site in Changchu. Two other auto parts plants in Shanghai and neiarby Taicang are maintaining “closed-loop” operations, in which workers sleep, live and work in isolation from the rest of society to prevent virus transmission. Source: Reuters

 

APRIL 2022

 

Couple chiplets with additive manufacturing processing and packaging and you may have a new industry segment. Who will do the 3D designing? Who will establish reliabilities? Who will write the new standards?

 

PCB East was reminiscent of the Phoenix rising from the ashes (of the Covid epidemic). Its resurrection as the PCEA's (Printed Circuit Engineering Association) first regional event successfully drew attendees from as far as the West Coast and Florida. It was great to see so many old friends in the real world while being brought up to date by the many design and engineering programs conducted during the 3-day meeting and exhibition by such notables as Susy Webb, Rick Hartley, and Steve Chavez. Our imaginations were stirred by a 2-hour introduction to 3D additive manufactured electronics presented by Dr. Jaim Nulman of the AME Academy. Our presentation of "From Possibility to Reality" held the filled lecture hall at rapt attention as new technologies from Israel, Germany, the U.S. and Japan were described. IPC industry legend Laura Turbini (retired) came to join notable attendees which included Dr. Hayao Nakahara, Anaya Vardya, John Vaughan, Chrys Shea and Peter Bigelow - CEO of IMI and President of the Boston Chapter of the SMTA.

 

Washington, are YOU listening?

 

The Chinese government will increase its funding for technology innovation and to ensure the security and stability of its product supply chains, which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The move, which is expected to help China remain competitive with other rivals in technology, especially the United States, was announced by President Xi Jinping

 

COVID lockdowns in Kunshan

 

China, which has for the past two months experienced its worst outbreak of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, has shut down entire cities and multiple tech manufacturing factories in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.  COVID lockdowns in Kunshan and other high-tech manufacturing centers have impacted PCB makers, disrupting their production and shipments.

 

Taiwan-headquartered PCB manufacturers and suppliers such as Elite Material and Nan Ya were among those to confirm plans to stop production at their Kunshan facilities. Elite Material’s production volume in Kunshan accounts for 30% to 40% of the company’s total, while 40% of Nan Ya’s production ordinarily happens in the city. Kunshan is also home to a large number of semiconductor manufacturers. The Taiwanese PCB operations in Kunshan of Nandian, Taiwan Optoelectronic and Xinxin also had closures early on the month.

 

Across the Atlantic River

 

Europe’s largest PCB manufacturer, Würth Elektronik Circuit Board Technology, and Luminovo, Europe's fastest growing software provider for the electronics industry, are connecting their products to enable their customers to adapt a much simpler, faster and more accurate PCB prototype costing and quoting process.

 

Using the Würth Elektronik API (application programming interface), Würth Elektronik’s PCB online shop gets directly connected to LumiQuote, Luminovo’s RfQ software. LumiQuote automatically extracts all relevant technical parameters of required PCBs using the modern PCB engine. The technical information is now sent directly to the PCB online shop via the interface and prices as well as delivery times are sent back to the users in real time.

 

Luminovo was one of the featured companies in our Keynote presentation at PCB East earlier this month.

 

Taiwan & automotive PCBs

 

According to Dr. Hayao Nakaharaautomotive PCB output of just one maker in in Taiwan is estimated to be larger than the entire automotive PCB production in the US. 

 

Although global automakers will suffer from insufficient supply of chips in 2021, and unfavorable news of production line shutdowns have been reported, the actual shipments of Chin Poon and Tripod, the major auto board suppliers in Taiwan, increased by 18.78% and 23.79% respectively last year.

 

Chin Poon’s revenue in 2021 is NTD, $659 million, the same below, an annual increase of 18.98%. Judging from the actual shipment amount of Taiwan-based automotive boards in 2021, Chin Poon’s shipments last year was still is first among Taiwanese manufacturers. Chin Poon will increase the price of automotive boards in the 2nd quarter of this year, as the NT$ is expected to depreciate.

 

Tripod’s revenue in 2021 wass 63 billion yuan ($2,279 million), an annual increase of 13.42%, of which automotive board revenue was $408 million.

 

Dynamic’s sales in 2021 was $570 million, an annual increase of 24.79%, of which automotive sheets account for 52% of revenue ($296 million). All of these are accelerating the opening of new production capacity this year, which is expected to push up automotive PCBs. This year, together with HDI process boards and ABF IC PKG substrates, they have become the three major focuses of PCB factory revenue in Taiwan.

 

MARCH 2022

 

Now that the pandemic is waning here in the U.S. it's time to move on. I predict that meetings, exhibitions and conferences with face-to-face meetings, technology exchanges and learning, seeing old friends and meeting new colleagues will be in full swing by April. Come join me at the Keynote speech of PCB East (the 11th to the 13th) in Marlborough, MA where I will talk about 8 of the many new innovations that I believe will broaden the current and future capabilities of EMS and fabrication designers and engineers.

 

The Government of Japan has announced that effective from March 1, business travelers are allowed for new entry into Japan under the responsibilities of receiving organizations. NEPCON JAPAN will support the documents necessary for visa application for exhibitors. The next show will be held from August 31-Sep. 2, 2022 at Makuhari Messe, Japan. 

 

Some locations are not yet out of the woods

 

Meanwhile, the Organizing Committee of the HKPCA's 2021 International Electronic Circuit Exhibition has  postponed the event again due to the current COVID-19 conditions in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The event ha been rescheduled to Aprikl,but now has yet to have a new date confirmed.

 

Hong Kong is planning a massive 100% test of its inhabitants as it records record cases.

 

South Korea smartphone update

 

South Korean PCB fabricators Korea Circuit and DAP are expected to supply a combined total of more tham 50% of the total boards that Samsung plans to buy in 2022. The remaining 40+% will be supplied by Japanese firms Ibiden and Meiko. Samsung uses high-density interconnect (HDI) boards on its smartphones.

 

Samsung Electro-Mechanics and Daeduck Electronics once dominated the supply of HDI boards to Samsung but the companies ceased making boards in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

 

Orders from Samsung accounts for up to 50% of Korea Circuit’s sales and up to 75% of DAP's.

 

Korea Circuit says sales of its flip-chip ball grid array (FC-BGA) business are increasing annually, but HDI still accounts for the majority of its business.

 

 

February 2022

 

No kidding, Dick Tracy! Where do you recommend we find them?

 

The White House is warning the chip industry to diversify its supply chain and find alternat sources in case Russia retaliates against threatened U.S. export curbs by blocking access to key materials. Estimates are that over 90% of U.S. semiconductor-grade neon supplies come from Ukraine, while 35% of U.S. palladium is sourced from Russia.

 

January 2022

 

At the TPCA show the Taiwan Circuit Board Association (TPCA) released a high-level technical blueprint for PCB, materials and equipment, commenting that HPC, B5G-Edge, B5G-Infrastructure, and high power are the focus of Taiwan’s PCB industry development. 

 

2021 was a harvest year for Taiwan’s PCB industry. The total output value of the industry chain at home and abroad has a high growth rate of 24%, setting a new record of $46 billion highlighting the resilience of the PCB industry in the epidemic. 

 

The TPCA Show hjad 430 well-known domestic and foreign companies exhibiting, with a total of 1,172 booths, attracting 34,277 visitors, an increase of 9% over last year. The “IMPACT International Assembly and Circuit Board Seminar” had 44 sessions, covering topics such as advanced packaging, heterogeneous integration, high-end carrier boards, and PCBs. The TPCA Show 2022 will to be held at the Nangang Exhibition Center from October 26 to 28. 

 

Partnering

 

How does one define partnering? Is there a way around the leverage that the bigger company exerts? How does the provider of an "in demand" but short in availability product or service view partnering? A European company involved in digital transformation in the electronics supply chain is advertising for a "Partnering Manager". Is this something we should all be investigating to navigate the troubled waters and opportunities of 2022? How would this differ from existing positions in marketing, service or management?

 

Washington, D.C. PAY ATTENTION!!!

 

At the TPCA Show, Taoyuan Mayor Zheng Wencan said in person that PCB is a very important foundation for the electronics industry. In order to maintain the competitive advantage of Taiwan’s PCB industry, it will face the two major challenges in the future, “international new net zero ecosystem” and “high-end manufacturing process”. To de-bottleneck investment”, it is necessary for the government to play a more active role. 

 

How does one define partnering? Is there a way around the leverage that the bigger company exerts? How does the provider of an "in demand" but short in availability product or service view partnering? A European company involved in digital transformation in the electronics supply chain is advertising for a "Partnering Manager". Is this something we should all be investigating to navigate the troubled waters and opportunities of 2022? How would this differ from existing positions in marketing, service or management?

 

What's going on?

 

The direct investment of the strategic investor WUS Printed Circuits (Kunshan) Co., Ltd. (China) in the wholly-owned Chinese subsidiary of Schweizer Electronic AG

 

Chips, chips and fewer chips

 

A 6.6 magnitude earthquake that rattled southwestern and western Japan early January 22 brought two chip fabs offline. It took Toshiba’s Oita and Buzen semiconductor production sites offline. 

 

The Oita plant, which produces LSI chips for the auto and industrial machine industries, was damaged by the earthquake. Production lines have been impacted, but the severity of the damage is not yet known.

 

Amid a lengthy chip shortage, a series of unrelated events have impacted the manufacturing sector, including a storm in Texas taking out Samsung, NXP, and Infineon fabs; a fire at Japan’s Renesas fab (and another at ASML);  as well as power cuts and droughts in Taiwan.

 

It takes time

 

Intel will spend $20 billion for 2 new fabs in Ohio, but where will the interconnect substrates be made? Hopefully not in Malaysia where AT&S will spend $2.3 billion for new chip substrate facilities. How can the U.S. establish a secure primary and a secondary supply chain of PCBs for its needs - both for its defense as well as commercial requirements? One more time, is sovereignty national or corporate and what are the risks for either case? Is anyone in D.C. addressing this? We know that the PCBAA is.


Global equipment spending for front end chip facilities is expected to reach a new all-time high of nearly $100 billion in 2022.Why can't America's industry, government (in partnership?), and those in its supply chain and partnerships spend just 1 or 2% of that for the infrastructure needed to connect the IC's? Remember, the ICs are useless unless they are connected to each other and the outside world.

 

Memory chip maker Micron Technology will shut its DRAM chip designing operations in Shanghai by the end of this year. Micron will close its DRAM Engineering Group from its Shanghai Design Center over the next year, with completion expected by December 2022. The South China Morning Post, citing industry sources, said that 150 Chinese engineers at the site will be asked to relocate to the United States or India.

 

Semiconductors have been at the heart of U.S.-China tensions and the United States has been looking to shift the balance back in favour of the West and away from Asia, driven by intellectual property and supply chain concerns. 

 

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Taiwan-based chip maker United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) and China’s Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. Ltd., alleging the companies conspired to steal trade secrets from Micron.

Fujian Jinhua Denied the allegations. UMC pled guilty to the charges and paid a $60 million fine

 

 

 
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