The Circuit Board Technology Situation & Prospect in China

Circuit Board Technology Situations

After the introduction of circuit board technology in China in 1956, local circuit board companies have sprung up all over the country. Taking the express train of reform and opening up, they have rapidly developed into a country with the largest PCB output value in the world.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the focus of the PCB industry has been shifting to the Asian region, and the market structure has quietly changed.

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In 2003, both the output value and import and export volume of PCB exceeded 6 billion US dollars, surpassing the United States for the first time and becoming the second-largest PCB producer in the world. The proportion of output value also increased from 6% in 2000 to 15.30%.

In 2006, it replaced Japan, which has always been ranked first and became the country with the largest output value of the PCB circuit in the world. In the six years after that, China’s PCB output value has always remained the first in the world. In 2020, the proportion of PCB output value also exceeded 50%, accounting for 53.8% of the global total output value.

Although China has been the world’s largest PCB manufacturing base for many years and has produced the largest number of printed circuit boards, there are still significant technical shortcomings.

According to Prismark’s statistics on the proportion of PCB output value in major regions of the world, 47.8% of China’s PCB output value comes from middle and low-level boards, while compared with other manufacturing powerhouses, the United States only accounts for 31.4% of this type of circuit board output value, and Japan is even lower, accounting for only 19.6%.

circuit board trends

This shows that China's current output value of the world’s first major support comes from low- and medium-level boards. In the production of circuit board types, the largest number of low-end products such as ordinary single-sided, double-sided, and multi-layer boards. As a big manufacturing country, this characteristic of the PCB industry is particularly significant.

In China, the output value of high-end products such as high multi-layer, HDI boards, IC packaging substrates, rigid-flex boards, and metal substrates accounts for a very low proportion, with a proportion of only 48.1%. The proportion of as high as 68.6%, 80.4%, and 84.7%.

Looking at IC packaging substrates with the highest technical content in circuit board technology, China only accounts for 4.2% of this type of board products, while Japan accounts for 44.6%, and we are only 9.42% of Japan’s. 

The big gap shown by the data comparison nakedly exposes the pain points and drawbacks of the China circuit board industry.

The printed circuit board industry is a highly competitive market. Although the global PCB output value is now shifting to China, and some sectors have begun to be replaced by domestic products, the weakness of high-end circuit board technology may become a constraint on the process of domestic PCB replacement and become China's circuit board manufacturing industry.

Circuit Board Technology Prospect

Since the performance requirements of high-end products are much higher than those of low-end products, such as IC packaging substrates, they have the characteristics of high density, high precision, high pin count, high performance, miniaturization, and thinning, so in a variety of technical parameters are more demanding. 

At present, the main technology and production capacity of IC packaging substrates are mastered by major PCB manufacturers in Taiwan. 

According to the statistics of TPCA (Taiwan Circuit Board Association), such products account for about 15.1% of the overall output value of PCBs in Taiwan, making it the fourth-largest PCB product in Taiwan.

The good news is that China's circuit board technology has developed rapidly in recent years. Major PCB manufacturers have been continuously optimizing product structure and improving production accuracy, and the proportion of high-end circuit board output value has increased significantly. 

Relying on the mutual cooperation of PCB upstream substrate, downstream manufacturing, and supporting equipment manufacturers, China's circuit board manufacturing technology has opened a position in other regions such as India and Vietnam and is very close to Japan and the United States, while with a lower labor costs, China PCB manufacturing now has a greater advantage in high-end circuit board manufacturing.

With the advancement and upgrading of circuit board technology to a higher level, in the booming wave of the global electronic information industry, Chinese-made circuit boards are expected to gain more and more favor.

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