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PCB Market is Welcoming The New Spring

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PCB is known as the printed circuit board, also known as the printed circuit board, as an indispensable key interconnections in electronic products, also known as the "mother of electronic products".

As the foundation of the electronic information industry, PCB printed circuit board industry market size is huge. According to the "2023-2028 China Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Industry Development Trend and Forecast Report" released by the China Business Industry Research Institute, China's PCB market reached 307.816 billion yuan in 2022, the market size has increased to 309.663 billion yuan in 2023, and it is expected to increase to 330.071 billion yuan in 2024.

Sub-regionally, the global PCB manufacturing enterprises are mainly distributed in mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia and other regions, mainland China still occupies the important position of the world's first.

From the point of view of application scenarios, communications and computers are the main application areas of PCB, occupying nearly 70% of the global market share.

A. The Market Initial Rebound

In fact, since the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2023, a number of PCB companies said that the current situation has improved compared with the third quarter.

In the consumer side of the demand rebound, the third quarter of the new machine on sale set off a buying frenzy in the background, PCB industry shipments rose, inventory turnover rate increased, but the industry's overall inventory is still at a high level, with the rise in demand for cell phone market, the fourth quarter of the industry to accelerate the effect of de-inventorying.

Shiyun Circuit said in early December 2023, "the current capacity utilization rate of 85% to 90%, compared with the third quarter is slightly higher"; Zhongjing Electronics Securities Department sources said that the capacity utilization rate in general than the third quarter is better than the third quarter, from the company's internal, there are signs of warming up.

Into January 2024, from the current situation, the price decline (especially HDI - high-density interconnect board price decline is very large), overcapacity, lack of demand and uncertainty about the future and other issues generally still continue, but has entered the closing stage.

Next, the industry is to re-enter a new growth track. 

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B. PCB is entering a new growth trajectory

PCB market in 2024 several major driving factors mainly include:

The first point is that the high-end of the cell phone at the same time pulled the demand for PCB.Canalys data show that in the third quarter of 2023, the global cell phone market sales fell year-on-year, but the domestic smartphone high-end market sales increased by 12.3% year-on-year; according to the other IDC data, in the first half of 2023, China's folding screen cell phone market shipments of 2.27 million units, an increase of 102% year-on-year. This means that the cell phone market tends to "high-end", folding screen cell phone starting volume pull high-end PCB category demand growth.

The second point, the booming development of AI also brings structural opportunities for the industry. the development of AI technology to promote the demand for high-performance computing chips, directly pulling the PCB industry scale growth. With the upgrading of the PCIe protocol, the transmission rate and the demand for PCB layers increasing, the market requirements for PCB materials and manufacturing processes continue to improve, thus increasing the value of PCBs. For example, in the AI server market triggered by ChatGPT, the demand for high computing power is hot, which generates strong demand for products such as large-size, high-layer count, high-order HDI, and high-frequency and high-speed PCBs.

The third point, robot products also need a lot of flexibility, bendable, high precision demand scenarios, requiring more supporting the use of FPC (flexible circuit board) and other products. Recently, NVIDIA said it is ready to enter the humanoid robotics industry.

The fourth point, the strong development of new energy vehicles also drive HDI, FPC and other products in ADAS, intelligent cockpit applications. Automotive requirements for PCB is diversified, single and double-sided boards, 4-layer boards, 6-layer boards, 8-16 layer boards accounted for 26.93%, 25.70%, 17.37%, accounting for a total of about 73%, HDI, FPC, IC carrier boards accounted for 9.56%, 14.57%, 2.38%, accounting for a total of about 27%, can be seen in the PCB multilayer boards are still the main demand for automotive electronics. This shows that PCB multilayers are still the main demand for automotive electronics. The demand for automotive PCBs is dominated by 2-6 layer boards, accounting for about 2% of the cost of the whole vehicle electronics.

Reviewing the PCB industry's development history this year, the market shows price downward adjustment, fierce competition, but also shows the investment expansion and the flourishing development of high-end categories, and this series of positive signals are all indicative of the industry's rebirth and metamorphosis.

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C. High-end PCB is high hopes

From the perspective of the development process of the PCB industry, Europe, the United States and Japan and other developed countries started early, industrial maturity, competitive advantage. Data show that before the 21st century, the United States, Japan and Europe accounted for more than 70% of the global PCB production value. Since 2000, the PCB industry in Asia began to rise in full, especially in China, with a full range of advantages in terms of resources, policies, industrial aggregation, etc., began to develop the PCB industry in full force.

In the process of the global industrial center to Asia in the transfer, China has become the PCB global manufacturing center. Data show that since 2006, China officially surpassed Japan to become the world's largest PCB production base. 2022, the total output value of China's PCB industry has reached 44.2 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 54.1% of the world. In recent years, with more enterprises to increase technological research and development and industrial investment, China's PCB industry, the cluster advantage is more obvious, many PCB manufacturers in various segments of the formation of their own competitive advantages and bargaining power, but it is worth noting that China's technology and production capacity in the field of high-end PCB boards still need to be improved.

With the rapid development of global electronic information technology, 5G, AI, cloud computing, big data and other application scenarios to accelerate the evolution of PCB performance put forward higher requirements, such as high-frequency, high-speed, high-voltage, heat-resistant, low-loss, etc., which gave rise to a strong demand for large-size, high-layer count, high-order HDI, and high-frequency and high-speed PCB products.

For example, just from the point of view of the change in the number of layers of the PCB, AI models need to improve the arithmetic to manage the increasing amount of data, the existing mainstream servers, memory packaging base is generally 6-16 layers. Entering the era of large-scale commercialization of artificial intelligence, more than 16 layers of high-end servers will become the mainstream of the market, and even with the continuous improvement of technology demand, the number of PCB layers will continue to increase, the back of the number of layers more than twenty layers of products will gradually increase the market supply. Among them, the PCB of AI training stage servers will generally reach more than 20 layers. Higher-end PCBs can undoubtedly provide more stable and efficient support for AI operations.

From a comprehensive point of view, high-end PCBs have high reliability and stability, higher integration and performance, lower power consumption and higher transmission rate, as well as longer service life and lower maintenance costs. At present, there are already many industry chain manufacturers to increase the layout of high-frequency and high-speed PCB boards and other high-end PCB.


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