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© Elmatica PCB | November 01, 2017

Copper foil shortage persists - might get worse still

With several governments desiring a shift towards cleaner new-energy vehicles, and an all-electric automotive industry, the copper shortage could very well last longer than first anticipated.
As a response to the issue printed circuit broker Elmatica is encouraging an open dialogue around the copper situation and its consequences.

“The copper output has not increased, and the demand for copper in lithium batteries is not reducing, the copper foil shortage still persist. There are no signs in the near future that it will change, especially now with the recent governmental statements from France, UK, Scotland, and China, who have all announced a possible future ban towards fossil fueled vehicles,” says Raymond Goh, COO of Elmatica, in a press release.

Further tension will be added to the copper shortage says Goh and points to China’s plan to ban waste imports, which is a significant source of recycled copper.

“Other actors will continue this work, however, it will only create a temporary decrease in supply. These aspects and other elements as zero new copper mines and closed mines will affect the supply chain of copper and turn the copper clad foil situation for the PCB industry.”

Time to react

Lately, the industry has seen only the beginning of the most significant seismic shift in the automotive industry, the transition from fossil fuel vehicles to “electrified” vehicles. China has set a goal for electric and plug-in hybrid cars that they shall make up at least a fifth of its auto sales by 2025. The United Kingdom and France have said they will ban new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. Norway has suggested a deadline between 2025 and 2040, Elmatica writes.

“Now is the time to react. The PCB industry needs to start communicating about this challenge. At Elmatica we urge open dialogue since we all are facing the same issues. The automotive industry will not shift overnight, the production line takes time to adjust,” says Goh.

The continued shortage of glass yarn also reduces the output of glass cloth used in laminates and prepreg.

“One of the worlds largest CCL Manufacturer has recently issued a notice to its customers, informing them of a reduced output until the end of 2017 due to insufficient glass cloth,” says Goh.

Expected price increase

The current ‘feeling stable’ situation of the CCL supply is possible due to the fact that the overall Printed Circuits demand has dropped in recent months, partially due to a lack of components and hence a short-term decreased for PCB, and not due to an increased supply of CCL in general. The question is, what will happen over the next months when Chinese New Year is coming, copper is scarce and if the supply of components stabilize?

“If everyone starts placing orders for Printed Circuits at the same time, then a temporary shortage of CCL can be the end result. This will consequently, increase the likelihood of a new round of price increase,” Goh explains.

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November 14 2017 8:30 PM V8.8.9-1