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© stevanovicigor dreamstime.com PCB | March 25, 2015

2014 was a good year for the PCB industry

2014 was a good year for majority of PCB companies, as output value of PCB industry touched USD 59.6 billion, rising 3.7% against 2013, the fastest growth rate since 2011.
Looking forward to 2015, a collapse in prices of commodities, especially in that of copper, will significantly reduce raw materials costs of PCB companies, thus further driving their profit margins, writes analyst firm Research in China (RIC).

In 2014, in key regions of PCB manufacturing, EUR, NTD, and JPY all depreciated sharply, while the KRW appreciated, dealing a heavy blow to the South Korean PCB industry. This cut of profit margins for the country’s PCB companies, all of which suffered declines in revenue and profit margins. Even Samsung’s SEMCO reported a 2.4 percent decline in its PCB business.

Taiwanese and European companies, benefiting from currency devaluation, saw a surge in profit margins, while Japanese peers didn’t gain from yen depreciation, as more than half of their production bases are located in foreign countries. However, the performance was still, but better than that of their South Korean counterparts.

HDI was still a main engine of growth in rigid PCB field in 2014, and is expected to maintain the momentum in 2015. As mobile phone screens become larger, PCBs for mobile phones have to develop accordingly. To ensure light weight and thinness of mobile phones, the demand for more advanced Anylayer HDI increases tremendously.

As the production of Anylayer HDI technology is time- and -capacity consuming, combined with Panasonic’s withdrawal from Anylayer HDI field, various PCB companies will expand Anylayer HDI capacity in 2015.

In 2014, the company that registered the largest growth in revenue from its HDI PCB business was Taiwanese Compeq, which boasts customers like Apple and Xiaomi. Revenue jumping 28.3 percent to USD 690 million, one step away from industry leader Unimicron.

Another spotlight in 2014 was on PCBs for servers. The growing demand for servers ushers in explosive growth. PCBs for servers require high Tg and low Loss, with the layer count growing too, up to 28. This has been driving a continuous increase in unit price of PCBs for servers since 2009. The companies that specialize in PCBs for servers, such as Taiwanese WUS Printed Circuit and ACCL, accomplished good results, with WUS Printed Circuit’s revenue ascending by 20 percent and ACCL’s by 27 percent.

Regarding rigid PCB, LED lighting stimulated demand for metal PCBs with good heat elimination performance. Taiwanese T.P.T, GIA TZOONG, and mainland Chinese Shenzhen Kinwong Electronic, which are specialised in metal PCB, all enjoyed a decent level of growth. In addition, PCBs for the automotive sector also showed a good performance.

The most sensational event in the PCB industry in 2014 was the merger of TTM and Viasystems. The combined company is absolutely the No. 1 manufacturer with total revenue approximating USD 2.5 billion. TTM enjoys a strong position in cellular phone and networking/telecom, and Viasystems in automotive and industrial fields.

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