Don't get caught flat-footed again! Plan to attend the IPC Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame's Management Forum January 25, 2021 and learn how suppliers, fabricators, EMS, and Contract Manufacturers responded to the unespected corona virus economic disruption, the actions they took to survive, and their plans to meet future business impediments caused by unexpected events.
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NextFlex has secured seven years of government funding worth up to $154M in a cost-sharing agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The seven-year agreement also includes funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Manufacturing Technology program, which focuses on cross-cutting defense manufacturing needs.
The Surface Mount Technology Association (SMTA) announced that its annual conference and exhibition, SMTA International, will proceed for 2020 as a completely virtual event September 28-30, 2020.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), which announced that it will build a $12 billion plant in AZ is seeking state and federal aid to cover the differential in manufacturing costs between Taiwan and the U.S. Construction is slated to start in 2021. The facility will create 1,600 new jobs.
TSMC reported that the U.S. approved 99% of its patent applications last year. The company said that it secured about 3,600 patents worldwide, including more than 2,300 in the U.S. last year. As of the end year-year, TSMC had filed more than 55,000 patent applications worldwide.
The chipmaker, which has a more than 50% share of the world’s pure wafer foundry business, spent $2.96 billion on R&D, a new high. The expenses amounted to about 8.5% of TSMC’s total sales last year. The company stated that it expects its R&D spending would equal 8.5% of its annual revenue until 2030.
TSMC reported record-high sales last year of $36.3 billion, and forecast that sales this year would grow 14 to 19%.
The Wall Street Journal reported early this month that the Semiconductor Industry Association, the trade group that represents Intel and other U.S. chip companies plans to ask the federal government for $37 billion to build chip plants in the U.S.
The German government will commit millions of euros in funding to electronics research and development as part of a wider effort to reduce
reliance on imports of equipment used in its critical infrastructure.
Berlin has resisted U.S. calls to exclude Chinese vendor Huawei from its telecoms networks on national security grounds, but the ensuing debate has raised awareness that its technology shortcomings pose a threat in their own right. “It’s important for us to maintain our international competitiveness and our sovereignty in these key technologies,” said Research Minister Anja Karliczek. Source: Reuters
Dateline June 20, Nikkei: Japan material makers are scrambling to tap the 5G bonanza
Japan’s materials makers are pouring money into development and output of cutting-edge products essential to the expanded use of 5G including substances that reduce signal loss and devices to facilitate data transmission in high-frequency bands.
5G uses millimeter wave, which falls in the 28-gigahertz spectrum. Many carriers, however, have started 5G services in the so-called sub-6 spectrum, or below 6 gigahertz, frequencies, and plan to expand into millimeter wave in the next few years.
Millimeter wave 5G can achieve transmission speeds 100 times faster than 4G, but requires special devices created with advanced electronic materials.
One such substance is copper-clad laminates, or CCL. Japan’s AGC*, a major producer of the laminate of copper and nonconducting resin, says that when used with the company’s fluororesin in printed circuit boards, the laminate can reduce signal loss in 5G networks by more than 30%. AGC plans to expand production of CCLs, aiming to triple sales of overall 5G-related materials to about $559 million by 2025. Demand for window-mounted antennas and heat dissipation powder is also seen as growing markets.
AGC has also developed a small, lightweight glass antenna for 5G networks. Pasted on a windshield, it establishes communication with nearby base stations and electronic devices in the car.
AGC has also teamed up with NTT Docomo to develop another glass antenna that can work as a base station when attached to window panes in office buildings. The company has already built a plant to mass produce those products and plans to promote them across Japan by the end of the year.
Semiconductors used in base stations and other 5G equipment also discharge more heat due to their dense wiring and high-speed transmission, increasing demand for heat-dissipation powder. Tokyo’s Tokuyama has invested some $28 million to boost its annual capacity to produce high-purity aluminum nitride powder by 40% to some 840 tons.
*AGC (formerly Asahi Glass) purchased the business of America's NELCO brand of CCL's last year.
Other Asian high-end CCL makers are also expanding to meet surging demand due to surging 5g needs
Panasonic will invest $75 million to boost the capacity by 50% at its Guangong China facility by the 2nd half of 2021 to expand its high-frequency and high-speed CCL production capacity. Huawei is one of its major customers.
Taiwan’s three leading CCL makers are also aggressively moving to expand their capacity. Elite Material is also expected to roll out new capacity in the second half of 2020 to fulfill orders in hands that have outstripped its current production capacity. Iteq’s new plant in China’s Jiangxi province will become operational in the third quarter, One-quarter late due to the coronavirus outbreak. Taiwan Union Technology will also have added capacity next year. Source: Digitimes
The TPCA (Taiwan Circuit Board Association) released production and sales data for the first quarter of 2020. Statistics show that the Taiwanese businessmen’s PCB industry output in the first quarter reached approximately $4.541 billion, a slight increase from the same period last year. With a growth of 0.5%, Taiwanese businessmen account for about 60.7% of the mainland’s production.
TPCA said that the total output value of the Taiwanese cross-strait circuit board industry in the first quarter did not seem to be affected by the global epidemic situation, mainly due to the mastery of high-end products. Judging from the product structure in the first quarter, infrastructure such as 5G base stations and large data centers are not affected by the epidemic, and will continue to build in the second half of 2019. The demand for high-end computing chips and high-speed memory continues to be expected, driving ABF carrier boards. Maintaining strong shipment momentum, the annual growth rate of IC carrier boards ranks first among all types of products at 18.6%.
Fuji Chimera Research Institute sees the market for 5G-related electronics devices to increase 7.4-fold to $244 billion.
Breaking up is hard to do
Spooked by coronavirus-induced supply chain factory shutdowns in China, Japan's Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, “We have become dependent on China. We need to make supply chains more robust and diverse, broadening our supply sources and increasing domestic production.”
However, many Japanese firms say shifting output back home is simply impractical and uneconomical. They need to be physically present in China because much of what they are making is ultimately for the Chinese consumer, and to meet the demands of ‘just-in-time’ production which prioritizes short delivery times for efficient manufacturing.
“Where the software is developed dictates where the hardware is developed and made,” said an official at a Japanese parts supplier, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The new government incentive is misguided if it only focuses on bringing manufacturing back, while overlooking R&D functions.”
The near total shutdown of China’s factories in February as the world’s No. 2 economy rammed Japan’s China dependence home. In addition to the government’s $2 billion offered subsidies to bring back manufacturing, Japan is also offering $220 million to Japanese firms to strengthen and diversify supply chains in Southeast Asia.