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PCB industry market analysis: Electronic components enter the fast lane

PCB is known as the “mother of electronic products” and is the fundamental force connecting the preceding and the following in the entire electronics industry chain. Today, with the rapid development of technology industries such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, 5G, big data, internet of things, PCB industry has a broad space and is expected to usher in a new round of opportunities.

According to relevant forecasts, the compound annual growth rate of the PCB market is expected to be about 4.8% from 2023 to 2026, and the output value of the global PCB market will reach US$101.5 billion by 2026.

Table of Contents

PCB industry overview

Printed circuit board (PCB) is an essential circuit carrier for all electronic products, providing assembly support and electrical connection of components for various electronic systems. PCB with insulation board as the base material, cut into a certain size, it is attached with at least one conductive graphic, and distributed with holes (such as, component holes, fastening holes, metallized holes, etc.).

Types of PCB
PCB types

PCB is classified according to substrate material, number of conductive pattern layers, application fields, etc., and there are many types:

  1. According to the substrate material: rigid printed board, flexible printed board and rigid-flex printed board;
  2.  According to the number of layers of conductive graphics layers: single-sided board (SSB), double-sided board (DSB) and multi-layer board (MLB). In addition, there are also many types of subdivisions such as high-density interconnect board(HDI), metal substrate, high-speed board, and high-frequency board.

PCB industry chain

According to the data, the upstream industry of PCB is the raw material required for production, mainly including copper clad laminate, copper ball, copper foil, gold plating, semi-cured sheet(PP), ink, dry film and other materials; Downstream industries mainly involve PCB applications in consumer electronics, automotive electronics, industrial control, medical, communication electronics, computers, national defense and aerospace and other fields.

From the perspective of PCB cost composition, excluding manual manufacturing expenses, the cost of direct materials accounts for about 48%, of which copper clad laminate(CCL) materials account for about 30%, copper foil accounts for about 9%, phosphorus copper ball account for about 6%, and ink about 3%.

The three main raw materials of copper clad laminates are copper foil, resin and glass fiber cloth, which are the main substrates to realize the conduction, insulation and support of PCB, accounting for 42%, 26% and 19% of the cost of copper clad plate respectively.

PCB industry chain
PCB industry chain

Copper clad laminate(CCL): PCB core substrate

CCL is the core substrate of PCB, which plays a key role in PCB performance. Copper clad laminates account for about 30-40% of the entire PCB production cost. Usually, printed circuit boards are formed after circuit etching, metallized vias, etc., and then electronic components are attached to form the main internal circuit structure of electronic products.

If the current is compared to the blood of electronic products, the copper clad laminate is equivalent to the “bones and muscle” of electronic products, playing an important role in conduction, insulation and support. Therefore, the performance, quality, manufacturing level, production cost and stability of PCB are largely determined by the manufacturing process of CCL products.

Types of copper clad laminate:

  1. According to the reinforcement materials used: electronic glass fiber cloth-based copper-clad laminates, paper-based copper-clad laminates and composite-based copper-clad laminates;

2. According to mechanical properties: rigid copper clad laminate and flexible copper clad laminate (FCCL);

In the current PCB manufacturing, rigid copper clad laminates still occupy the major share. For example, according to the data, in China, the market share of CCL in China is 94.33% and that of flexible copper cladding is 5.67%.

Types of copper clad laminate
Types of CCL

Copper clad laminate industry chain:

Upstream – raw material suppliers, mainly including electronic copper foil, special wood pulp paper, electronic grade glass fiber cloth, synthetic resin, etc.;

Middle – copper clad laminates manufacturing, mainly including the production of various types of copper clad laminates and bonding sheets;

Downstream – PCB manufacturers and further downstream terminal applications, such as communication equipment, consumer electronics, servers and automotive electronics.

From the perspective of the market structure, the competition pattern of the copper clad laminate industry is basically stable, and the industry concentration is relatively high. Compared with downstream PCB products, copper clad laminate products have a higher degree of standardization, and mature manufacturing process. After full competition, the pattern is gradually stable. At present, the industry mainly presents the pattern composed of Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, Japan and South Korea.

market shares of CCL manufacturers
market shares of CCL manufacturers

According to relevant data, Kingboard Copper Foil Holdings Ltd. (KCFH), Shengyi Technology (SYTECH), and Nanya New Material Technology Co., Ltd. are the top three copper-clad(CCL) manufacturers in the world, with market shares of 17% / 13% / 12% respectively.

In terms of average price, the average price of rigid copper clad laminates in mainland China is lower than that of the United States, Europe, Japan and other Asian countries and regions, and the average export price is also lower than the average import price.

In high speed copper cladding, high frequency copper-clad laminates packaging substrate for copper cladding areas, the United States, Japan and China’s Taiwan funded enterprises occupy a dominant position.

PCB market structure: steadily growing market scale , low industry concentration

According to relevant statistics, the global PCB market scale increased from US$58.843 billion in 2017 to US$80.449 billion in 2021, with a year-on-year growth rate of 23.35% in 2021. It is estimated that the global PCB market will exceed US$100 billion in 2026. The CAGR in 2026 is 4.77%.
In 2021, the CR10 of global PCB enterprises is only 36%, showing a low industry concentration, and the market share of Zhen Ding Tech. Group, the first in market share, is only 7%.

With the trend of automobile intelligence, high-layer HDI and high-frequency PCB solutions are increasing. PCB manufacturers will form two major supply camps. Traditional automotive PCB manufacturers still have the advantage of being the first mover in automotive safety PCBs, while newcomers will enter the supply chain with faster solution and adaptation capabilities.

Automotive PCB has higher production barriers, and the market concentration is higher than the industry average. The industry is dominated by enterprises from Japan, the United States, and Chinese Taiwan. From the perspective of product structure, the global PCB industry is moving closer to high precision, high density and high reliability, optimizing the industrial structure to adapt to the development of downstream communications, servers and data storage, new energy and smart driving, consumer electronics and other markets .

The layout manufacturers of the global PCB industry chain mainly include Zhen Ding Tech. , Unimicron, Dongshan Precision Manufacturing Co.(DSBJ), Mektec, TTM Technologies, Inc., etc.

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