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PCB | August 22, 2008

Michael Gasch: I disagree with Electronics.ca's PCB research

Mr Michael Gasch, CEO of Data4PCB, has written a short abstract regarding the recently published research "Advanced Printed Circuit Board Industry Report" made by Electronics.ca.
The report (plus the information given on the website of Electronics in Canada) is graced with smattering, mistakes, poor research and wrong conclusions. I have to assume that the author has little or no knowledge whatsoever of the industry, insofar it is adventurous to ask for money for the report.

The wording of the report leaves the impression that it was researched in China by a person of Chinese origin and the translation into English was made by another person without the knowledge of the industry. Being active in the PCB-business for decades I never have heard of "hard board" or "soft board". Most likely the researchers meant "rigid" and "flexible" board", but a Canadian publisher should know his language -?

The abstract has several grave mistakes; in the following I try to correct a few:
- Allegation: In Europe, PCB industry has been gradually shrinking due to the strict demand in environmental protection and weak competitive ability caused by workers' unwillingness towards overtime; hence in the future, Europe-based PCB enterprises will all disappear, or be transferred to China, said Electronics.ca.
- Answer: obviously, the conclusion is wishful thinking of a Chinese researcher. The reduction of the European production base cannot be attributed to ecology (this eventually will come to China as well), to "unwilling" workers (labour laws still are in their infancy in China but with time to come the situation will change there as well), but primarily it is the difference in salaries and rate of exchange (productivity in China is much lower, usually it one needs 2 workers in China for one in Europe). And I never have seen an industry to "disappear" - even the textile industry still is at home in Europe or even in Germany for that matter.

- Allegation: Taiwan also acts as the world's another largest mobile phone board producing area, sharing _over 60%_ of the global market. And two paragraphs later: Taiwan is the world largest supplying region in mobile phone board, and _over 65%_ of the world's mobile phone boards come from Taiwan.
- Answer: is it “over 60 %” or “over 65 %”? But both statements are wrong: The Taiwanese production value of HDI-boards and IC-substrates is just 24 % of the global volume.

- Allegation: In China, there are 1200 plus PCB enterprises, most of which are engaged in single-sided PCB and multilayer PCB with low technology content.
- Answer: the author ignores that double sided boards made in China are more than double the amount of single sided boards. (1775 : 830 m USD). The distribution per technology in China is the following:

Single sided: 6,8 %
Pth: 14,6 %
MLB 52,5 %
HDI/IC-substrates 14,2 %
Flex/flex-rigid 11,9 %

As to my understanding 78,6 % of the production isn't really "low technological content".

- Allegation: Viasystems Group, the largest PCB manufacturer in North America
- Answer: Viasystems has not one single PCB production in North America. The only PCB facility left is the former Kalex plant in China.

Summarising, I have to state that out of the above the report shows extremely sloppy research, concludes Mr Gasch.

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