Taiwanese PCB industry reaches new high in 2020
According to the Taiwan Printed Circuit Association (TPCA), the 2020 output of the cross-strait Taiwanese PCB industry increased by 5.1% from 2019 to NTD 696.3 billion (USD 23,609 million) in 2020, reaching a new high in history through a positive growth for four consecutive years.
Alongside the significant volatility in the foreign exchange rate, the USD's growth was even up 10.2%. Looking ahead to 2021, another new high in history is optimistically expected as the total output of domestic Taiwanese PCB manufacturers will increase by 4% in 2021 following the economic recovery in Europe and the USA in the post COVID-19 era and the increasing terminal application demands boosted by 5G. Influenced by the COVID-19 development in mainland China, the 2020 output proportion of cross-strait Taiwanese PCB manufacturers gradually rose from 60.7% in Q1, the lowest, to 64.0% in Q4 after the pandemic slowdown with an annual average of 62.8%. Because of the different planning in cross-strait investment deployment by leading Taiwanese PCB manufacturers after the trade war outbreak, the macro-environment changes have doubtlessly influenced the choices of production bases in PCB manufacturers. However, in terms of the major global PCB production clusters, mainland China is still promoting in the market and manufacturing terms, and the prime choice becoming one of the choices is the only deployment change. Observations in terms of the performance of various PCB products by Taiwanese manufacturers show that the IC substrate and HDI with the most brilliant performance were the stars in 2020. Benefited from HPC chips and high-speed memory, the IC substrate demand increased up to 16%. Despite the decline in the overall mobile market, the demand for high-standard baseboards from smartphones also boosted HDI growth by 9.6%. The demand for FPCB also increased by up to 6% due to the launch delay and hot sales of US mobiles. Thanks to the business opportunities from work from home, distance learning, and videoconferencing that boosted the demand for laptops and the gradual recovery of automotive sales, the sales of multilayer boards also increased by 2% at the rebound in the second half of the year after a slump in the first half of the year. Regarding the rigid-flex board, the only PCB product that experienced a decline in 2020, manufacturers needed to find a new market outlet through product reform due to the battery demand fall after the global smartphone and autotronics decline alongside the turn to SiP+FPCB design of AirPod Pro in 2019. In conclusion, Taiwan’s PCB industry's overall performance showed a surprise in 2020, with a brilliant overall performance. Looking ahead to 2021, despite the continuation of the pandemic, the launch of vaccines for COVID-19, the upheavals in the global situation, according to the ITRI-IEK survey, the transition from 4G to 5G telecommunication technology in 2021 will bring an overall growth to major PCB products. These include PCBs for smartphones, laptops, wearables, servers, self-driving cars, and network equipment, where the strong momentum of wearables, self-driving cars, and network equipment will even lead to the growth of the entire electronics industrial chain. While Taiwanese PCB manufacturers still capture strengths in technology and quality, and alongside Taiwan’s world-leading semiconductor and ICT industries, such as TSMC’s world-leading advanced foundry process technology, besides enjoying the geographic advantages, Taiwan’s PCB industry can take advantage of Taiwan as the world-leading IC substrate production base. Therefore, it is necessary for Taiwan’s PCB industry to upgrade to advance processes to catch the tremendous business opportunities alongside Taiwan’s semiconductor industry's evolution. By concluding various key factors, it seems that 2021 will be the best start in recent years. However, the PCB industry must remain cautiously optimistic and make advanced deployment to ensure all’s well that ends well.