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Compact, integrated PCB assemblies top R&D efforts

Suppliers are boosting product quality by adopting the latest technologies and high-grade equipment.

Makers of PCB assemblies in China are directing development programs toward more compact and lighter models. Most businesses adopt HDI PCBs, encapsulation plates, soft boards and 0201 or 01005 SMD components to develop smaller designs. Such releases are usually targeted at upscale smartphones and notebook PCs. Manufacturers also employ HDI technology to improve circuitry and decrease aperture.


PCB assembly

Xiamen Apson's GPD-10288F model adopts immersion gold surface finish and meets UL and RoHS standards.

Some suppliers are exploring module plotting technology to enable a more integrated design.

Under efforts to enhance quality, companies utilize materials that boost heat resistance and glass transition temperature at low heat expansion coefficient and permittivity. Makers also use mechanical and laser-beam drilling machines, electroplating devices, automatic optical testers and laser plotters from the US, Europe, Japan and Taiwan.

Moko Technology Ltd has eight Yamaha SMT lines and conducts automated optical inspection and X-ray tests. PCB assemblies represent 65 percent of the supplier’s overall yield.

Xiamen Apson Electronics Co. Ltd has automatic cleaning, coppered, gilding and Culter DES lines, and paralleled exposure machines. Zhejiang Sheen Technology Co. Ltd, meanwhile, operates three automatic chip mount, two wave-soldering and six SMT lines.

For circuit design work, enterprises utilize CAD. AutoCAD, FreePCB, OrCAD, PADS PowerPCB and Protel are employed. For IC packaging, companies adopt EQFP, FBGA, PQFP, MBGA and UBGA.

To follow the environment protection trend, suppliers ensure releases are halogen-free and conform to UL and RoHS directives.


Largest global production base

China remains the world’s key manufacturing hub for PCB assemblies.

The country accounts for one-third of global sales, and this is forecast to reach 42 percent by 2014. Worldwide PCB output value climbed by 10 percent in 2011.

Local makers are setting their sights on home appliances, LED devices, consumer electronics and medical equipment. LED lights, smartphones, panel computers and LCD TVs are seen as strong growth catalysts.

In anticipation of demand upturn, companies are expanding production and improving manufacturing capability further. Xiamen Apson, for instance, will boost monthly yield to 30,000sqm from the current 20,000sqm. It also plans to increase workforce from 532 to 600. The supplier turns out PCB assemblies for smartphones and computer panels.

Zhejiang Sheen will raise output of PCB assemblies utilized in LED products this year. Releases are also targeted at household appliances and solar energy controllers.

China has more than 1,000 companies offering PCB assemblies, most of which are located in the Yangtze River and Pearl River Delta regions, and the Bohai Bay Rim Economic Region. These areas account for over 80 percent of the country’s total yield.

Enterprises send output to Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Moko anticipates its shipments to the last will surge by 35 percent this year.

Manufacturers accept OEM orders, using PCBs and other electronic components according to buyers’ preferences. Some produce the boards in-house.

The key materials are the PCBs, electronic components, scaling powder, soldering paste, copper, tin and mucilage. These take up 65 to 74 percent of total costs. For the flexible printed circuits, makers use CCL and coverlay coating sourced from Japan and the US.

Most businesses will raise quotes by 3 to 5 percent in the months ahead to compensate for climbing labor and material outlay. Some will implement adjustments exceeding 5 percent.


Taiwan: Line rides on robust application base

Strong demand from the telecom, computer and industrial sectors is spurring Taiwan’s PCB assembly sector. The Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center estimates the island’s overall production will amount to $17.7 billion this year from $17 billion in 2011. Makers offer flexible, rigid, rigid-flex and HDI boards, and IC and heat dissipation substrates. Enterprises such as JetPCB Inc. conduct sampling services for testing or small-volume orders.

There are 120 to 130 companies pursuing PCB manufacturing and assembly in Taiwan. The cities of Taipei and Taoyuan are the key hubs, hosting more than 50 percent of suppliers.

Businesses conduct operations in both the island and mainland China. In the former, production emphasizes high-end components. IC substrates led output in this sector last year with a 34 percent share, followed by rigid, HDI and flexible boards.

Entry-level releases with low technology barrier are generally handled in the mainland. HDI and flexible varieties, which are targeted at smartphones and tablet PCs, accounted for 23 percent and 18 percent of yield, respectively.

Despite rising oil, copper and gold costs, the majority of Taiwan companies are optimistic of better sales this year, citing increasing orders from Japan.

In anticipation of the upsurge in demand, many enterprises are planning to boost capacity. Interconnect Technology, for instance, will raise capital expenditure to $100 million for the manufacture of IC substrates.

Related report:
Electronic industry mold-making services: Molding services target upmarket with high-grade variants



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Note: This article "Compact, integrated PCB assemblies top R&D efforts" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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