Printed-circuit-board industry won't surpass past highs before 2004

DECEMBER 17--The printed-circuit-board market reached a bottom in 2001, with worldwide sales expected to increase slightly in 2002.

DECEMBER 17--The printed-circuit-board (PCB) market reached a bottom in 2001, with worldwide sales expected to increase slightly in 2002. However, exceeding the levels posted in 2000, when global revenues topped $42 billion, will not happen for some time. Weaknesses in several tech sectors are to blame, including telecom, medical, and the broader information technology industry, according to research conducted by Allied Business Intelligence (ABI; Oyster Bay, NY; alliedworld.com). "Given current market conditions, the PCB industry will take about four or five years to reach the level attained in 2000," states Edward Rerisi, director of research at ABI. "The PCB market is strongly correlated with the electronic equipment industry. As this industry recovers, so will the PCB market," he adds.

With nearly 2000 companies actively engaged in PCB production, ABI contends that only the most technically advanced will weather this storm. Smaller companies may be pushed out of the market unless they successfully cater to a niche application.

Further pressure mounts as Asian players continue to take advantage of their reduced labor and overhead expenses. Additionally, Asian PCB manufacturers benefit from their proximity to equipment production, typically outsourced in the region. According to ABI, this region will boast the highest growth rate going forward.

These trends are identified in a new research study by ABI, "Printed Circuit Boards: A Global Examination of the Printed Circuit Board, Contract Electronic Manufacturing, Semiconductor and Electrical Equipment Industries." The report also examines the trends in the markets for contract electronic manufacturers, semiconductors, and electronic equipment.

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