Low layer-count units still dominate multilayer PCB supply
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  • Makers focus on mainstream electronics applications while sustaining product initiatives for higher circuit density.

    China suppliers of multilayer PCBs are capable of turning out units with more than 60 layers but will remain focused on those with a low count in coming years. They are capitalizing on strong demand for the latter kinds, which are broadly adopted in the computer, communications, consumer electronics, industrial and automotive sectors. At present, 4, 6 and 8-layer boards generate 80 percent of the country’s total production value for the line. By 2017, the overall share will hit 98 percent based on respective portions of 41, 31 and 26 percent. The last includes models with up to 16 layers.

    Companies such aStorm Circuit Technology Ltd and Innoquick Electronics Ltd can achieve 30-layer models but allocate manufacturing resources to mainstream versions. Eighty percent of the former’s output consists of 4, 6 and 8-layer units, while it is four to 12 tiers for Innoquick.

    Viafine PCB Technology Ltd’s releases can have as many as 20 layers, but varieties with four and six dominate yield with a 60 to 80 percent share. At the HTD Group, 4, 6 and 8-layer kinds represent between 80 and 90 percent, and up to 12 layers the rest.

    For enhanced competitiveness in the low layer-count segment, makers accommodate high-mix and low-volume orders. They also ensure a short turnaround time. Innoquick is capable of churning out 4,500 varieties monthly, and can offer 4 and 6-layer PCBs in 48 hours and units with eight or more layers in 72 hours. Viafine can provide samples of 4 and 6-tier models within six days, while Storm Circuit can handle
    14-layer boards in seven days. The latter conducts PCB assembly as well.

    To ensure their selections continue to match the multifunction and miniaturization trends in terminal applications, suppliers press on with product improvements. They can realize 1.5mil minimum line width and spacing now from 1.6mil last year, while holes as small as 0.1mm can be implemented. Some use buried resistance and capacitance to increase circuit density.

    Uptick in demand spurs manufacturers to expand production capacity. Viafine anticipates sales will increase by 20 percent this year, encouraging it to expand capability by 40 percent to 30,000sqm. HTD will build another factory in Jiangxi province in the next three to five years to elevate capacity to 50,000 to 80,000sqm.

    Driving these initiatives is the local sector’s healthy development. The categoryis projected to maintain nearly 4 percent CAGR in terms of production value in 2012-17, beating the 1 percent projection for the global industry. By the end of the period, domestic manufacture will hit $11.4 billion.

    Multilayer boards constitute the largest segment in mainland China’s PCB line. For interviewed makers, these account for the bulk of sales. Innoquick generates 80 percent of its revenue from the category, Viafine more than 60 percent, and Storm Circuit and HTD 40 percent.

    There are about 1,500 suppliers in the mainland, responsible for half of the world’s output value.

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