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Modest growth for pcb global markets

Forecast predicted by BCC Research


Printed circuit boards (pcbs) are ubiquitous markers of the semiconductor revolution although they predate the advent of modern-day electronics by several decades. BCC Research reveals in its new report that the complexity of PCBs lies more in the distinctive nature of their market dynamics than in their technical underpinning.

Pcbs can be considered as a mechanical platform that houses the conducting lines (tracks), pads and other necessary features required to connect disparate electronic components. Their conducting features typically are etched from materials like copper. The base substrate of PCBs is non-conducting.

The global market for pcbs, which totaled nearly $61.5 billion (all figures USD) in 2015, should reach $63.5 billion and nearly $73.8 billion in 2016 and 2021, respectively, reflecting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1%. As an application segment, networking devices is expected to grow from nearly $15.8 billion in 2016 to $17.5 billion in 2021 on a five-year CAGR of 2.1%. Computing and storage as an application segment should grow from $14.1 billion in 2016 to nearly $15.5 billion in 2021, reflecting a five-year CAGR of 1.8%.

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are ubiquitous markers of the semiconductor revolution although they predate the advent of modern-day electronics by several decades. PCBs provide a platform for the placement and interconnection of diverse components, modules and subsystems in electronic devices. They are simpler to visualize and easier to understand technologically compared to their sophisticated components. However, the complexity of PCBs lies more in the distinctive nature of their market dynamics than in their technical underpinning.

Semiconductor components and the devices housing them have been characterized by rapid intellectual property (IP) generation and subsequent monetization. This pace has been facilitated by the success of stakeholders that have constricted the size of transistor features in semiconductors. PCBs have not experienced comparable evolution of their hardware, the reasons for which are many. Chief among them is the dependence of PCB manufacturing on a wide range of raw materials. This dependence sets PCBs apart from semiconductor integrated circuits (ICs), which overwhelmingly depend on silicon. The supply and demand dynamics of silicon is mature, and little supply-side pressure exists.

On the other hand, PCB manufacturing is vulnerable to changes in the supply of raw materials. Demand alone does not dictate the pricing of PCBs as supply-side constraints also play an important role, which highlights the importance of the distinctive dynamics of supply and demand on the prospects of the PCB market.

In terms of contribution to the global market by end application, medicine and automotive and transportation end applications are the fastest-growing segments. These markets are witnessing a steady rise in the diversity of use cases, which will help move the market away from stagnation.

“Mobile phones and tablets have witnessed an extended bull run, which will likely slow in the first part of the forecast period as the market reaches stagnation,” says BCC Research analyst Kaustubha Parkhi. “The industrial domain is largely untapped and is likely to witness accelerated acceptance during the forecast period. Instrumentation and scientific research investments are largely uninfluenced by the greater PCB market. This is also true to an extent for the defense domain.”