When the electronic products turn their direction to become more thin, small and light, they also ask for the requirement of high density for PCB. HDI (High density interconnect) achieves smaller apertures, thinner line widths, fewer through-hole vias, which enable to save PCB wiring area, greatly increase component density, and improve radio frequency interference, electromagnetic interference and electrostatic discharge, etc. In this article, we are going to discuss the current situation of HDI PCB industry. The data presented herein are for reference only. It does not represent the views of IBE.
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Industrial chain of PCB industry
HDI is the higher level of the ordinary PCB production process. Based on the PCB industry chain, the upstream includes raw materials such as copper-clad laminates, resins, and dry films. The midstream is PCB manufacturing, and the downstream includes multiple application scenarios like computers, automotive electronics, consumer electronics, and aerospace.
As a carrier for the support and connection of electronic components, PCB has shown an overall growth trend in global PCB output value in recent years. According to relevant statistics, the output value of the global PCB industry has reached US$80.9 billion in 2021, with a year-on-year increase of 24.08%. For mainland of China, its PCB output value has gained US$44.2 billion in 2021, with a year-on-year increase of 25.93%, accounting for 54.64% of the world.
From the PCB product segmentation structure, at present, ordinary multi-layer PCBs occupy the mainstream position compared with other PCB products. In 2021, multi-layer boards accounted for 38.6% of the global PCB market, and single-layer PCB and double-layer PCB took up 11.6%; followed by packaging substrates covered 17.6%; flexible PCB and HDI PCB accounted for 17.5% and 14.7% respectively.
Based on mainland of China, multi-layer PCBs stand at 47.6%, single-layer PCBs and double-slayer PCBs accounted for 15.5%; followed by HDI PCBs covered 16.6% and flexible PCBs was 15%. While the packaging substrates took up a smaller proportion of 5.3%. Compared with advanced PCB manufacturing countries such as Japan, the proportion of high-end PCBs in China is relatively low, especially in packaging substrates, high-end HDI PCBs, and multi-layer PCBs.
Analysis of the HDI industry
In terms of industrial output value, with the higher penetration rate of various wearable devices, smart head-mounted display devices, and vehicle-mounted HDI, the HDI market is expected to grow in the future.
It is said that the global HDI output value was 11.8 billion US dollars in 2021, and the CAGR of the HDI output value is expected to be 4.9% from 2021 to 2026. The global HDI output value will increase to 15 billion US dollars in 2026. From the global HDI downstream application fields in 2020, mobile terminals, computers, consumer electronics, and automotive respectively accounted for 58.1%, 14.5%, 11.7%, and 5.7%.
Competitive landscape of the HDI industry
Actually, the global HDI manufacturing location does not match the distribution ratio of the country of origin. According to the classification of manufacturing location summarized by Prismark , the production capacity of Hong Kong and the mainland of China accounted for 59%, while based on the location of ownership Hong Kong and the mainland of China was only 17% of production capacity. In other words, most of the global HDI industry is controlled by manufacturers from overseas or Taiwan, China.
Compared with multi-layer PCB, HDI is characterized with heavier assets, higher technical requirements and higher industry concentration. Manufacturers capable of mass-producing HDI in mainland of China include DSBJ, Victory Giant Technology, Bomin Electronics, and Kinwong. They mainly focus on the production of HDI with large room for improvement.
Judging from the production expansion of leading enterprises, overseas enterprises and Taiwan-funded enterprises is concentrated in carrier boards. From 2020 to 2021, the capital expenditures of leading PCB companies such as Unimicron and AT&S mainly invest in the expansion of IC substrate production capacity. Although there have an obvious tendency to turn to carrier boards among leading enterprises, HDI still has its own advantages in terms of technology maturity and cost. The demands from 5G smartphones, IoT products and automotive electronics still increase, which has brought continuous opportunities to HDI manufacturers.
The future development trend of the HDI industry
1. Although China has developed into the largest PCB market in the world, its production capacity is still dominated by low-tech and low-value-added products.
It’s reported that the output value of 4-layer PCB, 6-layer PCB and 8 to 16-layer PCB market in China accounted for 19.1%, 13.5% and 10.4%. Besides, the sales volume of IC carrier boards and 18-layer and above multi-layer PCBs only covered 2.7% and 1.2%. HDI and flexible PCBs covered 16.5% and 17.1% of the market respectively. At present, the survival of the fittest in the mainland of China becomes more obvious, which stimulates the PCB industry to transform and upgrade.
High-end and cutting-edge PCB products are concentrated in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Europe and the United States. When it comes to the technical level, Japan is still the world’s largest high-end PCB manufacturer which is good at manufacturing high-end HDI boards, packaging substrates, and high-level flexible PCBs.
The United States still retains the development and production of high-complexity PCBs, which are mainly used in the military, aviation, communications and other fields. South Korea and Taiwan Province of China have gradually joined the competition in the fields of packaging substrates and HDI boards with higher added value.
2. Industry demand forces HDI to develop rapidly.
Electronic products such as smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices are developing toward miniaturization, multi-function, and long battery life. Taking Apple as an example, iPhone X introduced SLP for the first time. The stacked SLP technology makes the motherboard size of the iPhone X only 70% of that of the iPhone 8 Plus. Smartphone motherboards have gone through the process of evolution from first-order HDI to high-order, arbitrary-order HDI, and then to SLP. The line width or space continues to decrease, and the component density continues to increase.
3. The automotive HDI product space is vast.
With the trend of intelligent development, from in-car entertainment systems to ADAS-assisted driving and automatic driving systems, the configuration performance of body domain controllers has improved, and the number of high-speed computing chips mounted in a limited volume has also increased.
IBE, a profession and more than 17 years experience on PCB and PCBA manufacturer, also offers services on HDI PCB design and manufacturing. Further information can be found in our website.