The United States once dominated the circuit board industry with its manufacturing and distribution centers. Since 2013, when the U.S. Dollar began gaining strength, trends shifted for those involved with PCBs and other products offered.
China is now the epicenter of the circuit board industry, while the APAC region provides a majority of the revenues firms earn currently.
The American market is working hard to respond to the challenges presented by a stronger currency. In June 2018, shipments of U.S.-made printed circuit boards rose by 12.6% compared to figures from the year before.
Year-to-date order growth for the first half of 2018 was 12.8% over the same period from the year before. Order growth continues to remain above parity, which bodes well for continued sales growth.
Important Circuit Board Industry Statistics
#1. Industry operating revenues reached $60 billion for the first time in 2016 for the printed circuit board industry in China. In 2018, revenues may top more than $100 billion. (Statista)
#2. The global value of printed circuit boards was more than $65 billion in 2014, with China having a majority of the revenues. Each year has brought more growth to the industry since 2012 when a $700 million decline affected global earnings. (Statista)
#3. Over 700,000 direct jobs come from the circuit board industry in the Chinese region alone. About 21,000 jobs are located in the United States, with fewer than 500 businesses currently making, selling, or distributing the product. (Statista)
#4. Printed circuit board shipments rose by 10.8% in 2018, with bookings up almost 5% and order growth up nearly 12%. (IPC)
#5. The APAC geographic region accounts for about 85% of the total sales earned by the circuit board industry each year. Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, and India join with China’s footprint to create a dominant market force for the industry. (Technavio)
#6. 30% of rigid printed circuit boards purchased in North America are used for either aerospace or military applications. That percentage is down from 2016 figures when those sectors accounted for over 45% of sales. (IPC)
#7. The U.S.-based circuit board industry reached a record 13 consecutive months of order growth in July 2018. That month also saw sales growth occur for 17 months in a row and positive year-over-year sales reach its tenth month. (IPC)
#8. $7.5 billion in earnings for the industry comes from flexible PCB manufacturing located in China. (TMR)
#9. Circuit boards with 18+ layers currently account for 2% of industry sales each year. The largest market share belongs to products with four layers, representing 13% of the overall market. (Research Gate)
#10. Circuit boards produced with a thickness between 0.5-0.7 millimeters hold virtually all of the current market. (Toradex)
#11. Bare printed circuit board manufacturing in the United States experienced a 2.7% decline in revenues in 2018, reaching revenues of $4 billion. Employment within the sector declined by 1.7% over the same period, with the total firms active decreasing by 2.5%. (IBIS World)
#12. 37% of the revenues earned by the circuit board industry involve multilayer products. 18% of sales are for flexible circuits and boards. HDI and IC substrates items hold a 15% market share respectively, while rigid single- and double-sided circuit boards represent 11% of current sales. (Toradex)
#13. 43% of the printed circuit boards manufactured in the world today come from China. South Korea comes in second, holding a 16% share of the market. These two leaders are followed by Hong Kong (14%), Japan (11%), and North America (5%). (Toradex)
#14. Electronics manufacturing services operate in a world market with an estimated value of $463.3 billion in 2017. Electronic equipment, which includes components such as circuit boards, is part of a global market valued at more than $1.75 trillion. (IPC)
#15. Circuit board manufacturing in the United States, when combined with electronic components, is an industry valued at $44 billion. Those numbers are down 0.7% from the year before, with a 1.7% reduction in firms, and a 1.8% reduction in job opportunities. (IBIS World)
#16. About 150,000 people are employed in circuit board and electronic component manufacturing positions in the United States. (IBIS World)
#17. The annual growth rate of the North American printed circuit board market reached 8.8% in 2017, making it the first year of overall growth since 2015 when it rose 0.4%. (Ceramic Industry)
#18. Lead times for new orders in the circuit board industry rose by more than 35% in 2017 for all types of rigid printed circuit boards. (IPC)
#19. A sharp spike in bookings in December 2017, 39% over the same month the year before, helped circuit board orders achieve a strong yearly gain in revenues. (IPC)
#20. The consumer price index for bare printed circuit board manufacturing stands at 111 as of October 2018. That is the highest rating for the industry in the U.S. since 1996, when it achieved a 111.1 score. It is still well below the 116.5 rating achieved in 1989, however, when the computing boom was just beginning. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
#21. Solder consumption involved with circuit board manufacturing is increasingly trending toward lead-free products. In 2007, 43% of the solder used involved either tin or lead. By 2017, 79% of the consumption involved lead-free products. (IPC)
#22. 51% of the employment opportunities available in the circuit board industry involve production positions. 10% of the posts are in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) roles, with another 10% involving management, financial, or business operations. Only 3% of the jobs available include sales or related activities. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
#23. Between 2013 to 2017, machine learning grew at a 34% CAGR, making it the third-fastest category of patents granted during that period with support from the circuit board industry. (Forbes)
#24. Spending on artificial intelligence is forecast to grow from $12 billion in 2017 to over $57 billion by 2021, which will fuel higher demand levels for circuit boards. (Forbes)
#25. Up to 800,000 new machine learning circuit boards and chips will be used in global data centers in 2018. (Forbes)
#26. Data science platforms are expected to grow in value to $4.8 billion by 2021, up from $3 billion earned in 2017. (Forbes)
#27. IBM is the global leader in machine learning, publishing over 650 applications in 2017. Microsoft finished a distant second, with 139 apps. They were followed by Google (127), LinkedIn (70), Facebook (66), and Intel (52). (Forbes)
#28. 61% of organizations choose machine learning or artificial intelligence as their most significant data initiative for the next 12 months. (Forbes)
Circuit Board Industry Trends and Analysis
The circuit board industry is changing in numerous ways. By 2028, it will be an entirely different sector of the global economy. Technology improvements will encourage smaller and thinner products, with 0.3-millimeter PCBs expected to create new opportunities in several industries.
Boards measured at 0.4 millimeters will soon become the industry standard. Companies purchasing PCBs at 0.5 millimeters or above will transition to the new product within the next five years, creating more revenue opportunities for manufacturers around the world.
The only potential problem point for the industry involves market distribution. Most sales occur within mature segments, which limits the potential for overall growth. The threat of a recession could curtail growth forecasts for up to 5 years, depending on the severity of the economic correction.
New products created from thinner, more powerful circuit boards could offset some of these losses. Expect the industry to achieve revenues above $100 billion for at least the next 5 years, with $150 billion a conservative estimate for 2028. The introduction of 5G technologies, combined with global trends for increased usage of IoT devices, should contribute to a minimum CAGR for the circuit board industry of at least 3.4%.
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