North America printed circuit board production growth is forecast to be 2.5% for 2016, while the global PCB market is expected to remain virtually flat, according to IPC’s survey-based study of the current state and outlook for the North American PCB industry.
Even though modest, the growth rate is an improvement over last year when PCB production in North America declined 4.3% in 2015, while estimated market growth was virtually flat, says Sharon Starr, director of research, IPC.
“We haven’t seen much growth in production since 2010,” Starr says, noting that the rigid PCB market will post the most significant growth while the flexible circuit segment will experience a slight decrease in its growth rate.
Segmented market data revealed that the flexible PCB market growth has continued to outpace rigid PCB growth by a wide margin even as rigid PCB growth turned positive in 2015.
The growth in the flexible PCB market overall is likely due to lower prices and the fact that smaller products—such as cellular devices—require miniaturized components. IPC is seeing increased demand for single- and double-sided rigid PCBs, according to Starr.
“In the flexible circuit segment, multilayer flex is a growth area,” she says.
The military and aerospace sector remains the largest vertical market for PCB manufacturers in North America, representing about one-third of the market. It is also the only vertical market segment expected to grow in 2016 as a share of the North American market, according to IPC.
Starr says sales within the industrial electronics sector remained flat in 2016, but noted that the medical market for flexible circuits, as a percent of the total market, is expected to grow.
An overview of the market and business of PCB manufacturing in North America, IPC’s survey contains current data and analysis covering rigid PCBs and flexible circuits separately, including market and production growth, production and sales by product categories, prototype production, vertical markets, and use of special technologies such as RF and embedded components.