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October 2021

 

The Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA) has signed a letter of intent to acquire certain assets of UP Media Group Inc. The deal is said to establish the PCEA as the leading association for printed circuit engineers worldwide, with over 2.5 million engagements annually to printed circuit engineers, designers, fabricators and assemblers.

 

The acquisition includes the annual PCB West and PCB East trade shows, which attract more than 3,000 registrants annually; PRINTED CIRCUIT DESIGN & FAB (PCD&F) and CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY magazine, with a subscriber base of more than 65,000; the PCB UPdate digital newsletter; PCB Chat, the podcast series; the PCB2Day workshops; and Printed Circuit University, the dedicated online training platform.

 

Under terms of the acquisition, key UP Media Group staff will join the PCEA, including Mike Buetow, who becomes president; Frances Stewart, who becomes vice president, sales and marketing; Chelsey Drysdale, who becomes chief content officer; and Brooke Anglin, senior sales associate.   The staff joining PCEA will report to the PCEA board, led by Chairman Stephan Chavez

 

 

Another PCB Pioneer has passed

 

Foster Gray who moved to Austin, Texas from Dallas in 1973 to build the Austin, Texas Instruments' Printed Wiring Board shop passed early this month one day after his 90th birthday. Texas Instruments elected Foster as a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Texas Instruments Inc. in 1996, culminating a career spanning 41 years with eight patents, 27 technical publications, and four published papers. Foster was an avid supporter of the IPC and participated in many of its early industry roadmap and standard development activities.  In 1996 he was inducted into the IPC’s Raymond E, Pritchard Hall of Fame – thus receiving the industry’s highest recognition.

 

September 2021

 

More M&A

 

Day 1:  Analog Devices announced that it is buying Maxim Integrated for $20 billion. The deal will create a giant analog chip design & packaging company with sales of $9 billion and a free cash flow of $3 billion. The combination will have 50,000 products and 125,000 customers around the world and allow ADI to better challenge number 1, Texas Instruments. All this is subject to regulatory approval in the U.S., China and a few other countries.

 

Additive Circuits Technologies  (ACT) acquired Bench 2 Bench Technologies, a Fullerton, CA-based high-performance manufacturer of flexible circuit boards for the medical device markets. ACT acquired Winonics, another California circuit maker in 2020.

“Our acquisition of Bench 2 Bench will industrialize the manufacturing of high-definition flexible circuits, allowing these types of products to reach targeted customers in an accelerated manner.  ACT’s technology embedded into Bench 2 Bench flexible circuit products will provide a truly differentiated product that will address the next-generation technology needs of our customers,” said David Torp, ACT’s CEO.  

 

Spartronics has acquired Inovar, a privately held company based in North Logan, Utah. Inovar, founded in 1998 is the largest independent Tier 3 electronics manufacturing service (EMS) player in the Rocky Mountain region. It is Spartronics 2nd acquisition this year. The company now operates eight manufacturing plants in the U.S. and one in Vietnam.

Spartronics is a portfolio company of One Equity Partners (OEP), which acquired Spartronics from Sparton Corporation in July 2020.  

 

Sometimes I wonder

 

What are they thinking? Even as Japanese warn against traveling to Japan during the current Covid surge (August 27) NEPCON Nagoya is promoting its October show and offering free tickets to attend!

 

Lead times for deliveries of capital equipment for electronic manufacturing continue to stretch out due to component and labor shortages as well as ongoing shipping bottlenecks. This is certain to negatively affect majior segments of fabrication and assembly suppy chains well into 2022.

 

Japan: Bouncing back

 

Japan’s PCB output increased by more than 40%. Its, growth rate exceeded 10% for 10 consecutive months, the largest increase in more than 11 years. was recorded. Among them, the output of soft board increased by 20%, which was a 6-month increase.

 

The latest statistics released by the Japan Electronics Packaging Circuits Association (JPCA) pointed out that the output of printed circuit boards (PCB; rigid board + flexible board + module substrate) in Japan in July 2021 increased by 32.2% compared with the same month last year. 

Cumulative Japanese PCB production for the January-July period of 2021 was $353.2 billion.

 

Taiwan

 

Nan Ya Printed Circuit Board has posted unaudited sales of $170 million for August 2021, down by 3.2% from the previous month, but up by 30% year-on-year. Year to date total sales reached $1.19 billion, a 37% increase over the same period last year.

 

A Chinese government restriction on power use shut down a number of Taiwan owned PCB fabrication plants located in Suzhou and Kunshan for 4 days in September. The Industrial Research Institute stated that this coukd negatively affect Taiwan's PCB revenue by 1.0%Z to 1.5% in the 3rd quarter.

 

More chip investment

 

China’s top chip maker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) is pouring $8.87 billion into a new chip fabrication plant in Shanghai’s free-trade zone. The company states that it has other plants planned for Beijing and Shenzhen as Beijing seeks to advance the country’s semiconductor industry.

 

General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra said that the largest U.S. automaker plans to make changes in its supply chain as it works to address the continuing semiconductor chip crisis that has forced significant production cuts.

 

"We're going to make some pretty substantial shifts in our supply chain," Barra said in an online interview. "We're already working much deeper into the tiered supply base because generally General Motors doesn't buy chips (directly) but (our suppliers do). But now we're building direct relationships with the manufacturers."

 

The GM CEO said some newer GM vehicles have up to 30% more chips than other vehicles.

 

August 2021

 

Where are we headed? Sales and profits are up. So are costs, job openings, inflation and delivery delays as well as the need for workers with the ability to read and follow instructions. Remedial training in reading comprehension and arithmetic are becoming more of a need for American companies hiring new workers. It's a sad commentary of our declining education system.

 

In the U.S. Royal Circuit Solutions has acquired South Coast Circuits.

 

Zwei reports that the DACH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) region's printed circuit industry grew by 19% in the first quarter of 2021 with the highest booking level since 2019 – even as material bottlenecks remain a cause for concern. PCB sales also increased 12.3% for the same period.

It is also encouraging to note that the number of employees in the region has returned to the pre-crisis level of 2019.

 

Safe renewable energy for electric vehicles is not so easy to produce! General Motors is halting production of the Chevy Bolt EV after a number of battery fires prompted a massive recall that has already cost the company nearly $2 billion. The automaker won't resume making the 2022 Bolt and Bolt EUV until at least mid-September.

 

Switzerland's Mycronic’s Assembly Solutions high volume division has signed an agreement to acquire Shenzhen Huan Cheng Xin Precision Manufacture Co., Ltd. The company which makes automated screen printers and pick & place equipment has about 120 employees. 95% of sales are in China. Screen printers account for 80% of total sales.

 

Taiwan-based Gold Circuit Electronics' (GCE) second-quarter 2021 revenues jumped 48.2% year-over-year to a record high of $227.75 million 50% of which comprised server applications. Net profits for the quarter increased 22% to a new high. Its July revenues rose 40% on year to $7.1 million.

 

The company expects sales of server boards to grow quarter by quarter in the second half of the year along with increasing shipments of servers adopting Intel’s new Whitley processor series to both datacenter operators and enterprise clients.

 

GCE is also ready to roll out in late 2021 or early 2022 sample products for servers that will adopt Intel’s next-generation Eagle Stream processors. While 100G network switches will remain the market mainstream in 2021, GCE is expected to significantly increase its shipments for 400G switches in the second half of the year, resulting in another big boost to its profitability.

 

In the interim the company expects to ramp up its sales of high-end HDI mainboards for notebooks and thick copper boards for automotive applications. GCE has newly developed IC test boards and will further upgrade its technology to manufacture PCBs with up to 52 layers.

 

Nan Ya Printed Circuit Board announced a record second quarter with sales of $448 million, up 15% from the last quarter. Nan Ya PCB expects its available production capacity for *ABF substrates to be fully utilized through 2023. 

 

According to the statistics of the Taiwan Circuit Board Association (TPCA), the copper foil industry’s revenue in July increased by 110.69% annually, and the CCL industry’s revenue in July increased by 63.53% annually, making it the top two PCB supply chain manufacturers in terms of annual growth in July. 

 

From a report of the Taiwan Printed Circuit Association

 

Rebound from a fall: Japanese manufacturers on the road to transformation:


Ranked as the world’s third-largest with a market share of 16.9%, the Japanese PCB industry keeps declining every year. Due to the high production cost in mainland Japan, Japanese PCB manufacturers continue to expand overseas capacity, mostly in Southeast Asian countries, to a 50:50 basis over the domestic capacity.

 

In 2020, the proportion of Japan's PCB products was FPC 46.4%, IC substrate 33.8%, and HDI and PCB 19.4%. After two years of decline, the Japanese PCB industry regained growth in 2020 after increasing the proportion of IC substrate output.

 

To deal with the global substrate shortage, besides expanding IC substrate capacity, Ibiden and Shinko have also reduced uncompetitive product lineups to retain advanced products with higher added value. For example, due to the stagnancy of FPC demand for smartphones and the keen external competition, FPC plant Mektron under NOK announced labor cuts of 27% in 2020.

 

Materials for making advanced PCBs are still controlled by the Japanese PCB industry. This will favor its transition toward niche products for a transformation into a small but excellent model.

 

Due to the return of COVID-19, Japan declared an emergency control in 2021H1, challenging the production momentum and pressurizing the supply chain of the PCB industry. Although the PMI in 2021H1 of 49-54 suggests an ongoing trend, further observation is required to determine if the Tokyo Olympics 2020 have affected the recovery.

 

Korean PCB manufacturers sized the substrate market with a highly independently supply chain:

 

Strategically, the Korean PCB industry also coped with the market changes by centralizing investments in products with higher added value in the last year.

 

In 2019, leading Korean PCB manufacturers such as Samsung and LG ended the HDI business with low profit and turned to the substrate market, raising the 2020 substrate output by 10% over 2019. Further observation is required to determine if over-emphasis on a single product will hinder the development of the Korean PCB industry. However, it is certain that the rises and falls of leading Korean manufacturers of terminal electronic products will affect the competitiveness of the Korean PCB industry.

 

PCB development in South Korea will focus on smartphone-related products, and the substrate will play a more important role. Benefitting from the strong export and domestic demands in 2020H1, South Korea maintained a PMI of 52-56. However, whether or not the Korean government can effectively control the second outbreak of the pandemic in July will become an important variable affecting the economic and industrial development of South Korea.

 

Oneup Business Insights of Astoria, New York announced a new study on the market for build-up films entitled "Organic Substrate Market Growth Report 2021-2027".

 

*ABF stands for Anjinomoto Build-up Film. There is a shortage of the material used in IC subtrates. The Anjinomoto material requires refrigeration fior storage and is reported to have a relativel short shelf life. There are other less known build up films and one has to wonder what they will be named, or will the ABF acronym stick as Kleenex has done for facial tissues.

 

Foxconn bought a chip plant from Taiwan chipmaker Macronix International for $90.8 million, as the electronics giant looks to make auto chips amid its foray into the electric vehicle (EV) market. Source: Reuters

 

A rising star in chip making?

 

Technavio, a market research firm, says that Vietnam’s semiconductor industry is projected to grow at nearly 19% CAGR, about $6.16 billion, between 2020 to 2024. The semiconductor sector is deemed as a stimulator for many industries and as one of the high value-added industries from a national perspective.

 

The Vietnamese government initiated the first IC development program in 2009 and set up an IC design research and education center, Saigon high-tech park lab, and two IC R&D centers with a total of $3.2 billion. The program provided microchip design training to electric engineers and incubated over 30 local technology companies. A portion of locally-made chips manufactured between 2012 to 2017 has been successfully commercialized.

 

This year Intel Products Vietnam has increased its investment there by $475 million bringing its total investment there to $1.5billion since 2006.

 

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