The year is flying by; first quarter is close to completion, and 2019 is a distant memory. Analyzing business trends and forecasting is difficult enough without adding a wild card into the equation, specifically the coronavirus. For this reason, I decided to provide a snapshot for the industry prior to coronavirus, and look at trends moving forward.
A slowdown for consumer electronics began during December 2018. Global shipments for semiconductors and printed circuit production in Taiwan declined sharply and continued over the next few months. The industry noticed a rebound during the second quarter of 2019, but declined again during the last quarter of the year.
Printed Circuits shipments in Taiwan grew by 1.48% in 2019. Rigid boards increased by 1.99%, and flex circuits increased by 0.15% for the year; a relatively small increase compared to the previous year. Volume declined during the last quarter of 2019, and industry forecasts showed a continued slowdown for 2020. The hardest hit segment is flexible circuits, but the rigid board segment is also down. The primary applications for flex circuits are mobile devices that include smart phones and tablet PCs. Sales for both these products were down during the last couple of years. The data from Taiwanese circuit board manufacturers indicates another decline, and volume for the next few months is expected to fall.
Printed Circuits shipments in Japan declined 7.0% in 2019 compared with the previous year. This is the first negative growth since 2016. Module substrates grew negligibly by 1.1% in 2019, rigid circuit boards decreased by 6.5%, and build-up boards the core products of the industry grew by 0.1%. The primary applications for build-up boards are used by domestic manufacturers for cellular phones, so its contribution for the industry can be significant.
Total shipments for flexible circuits in Japan shrunk by 26.9% during 2019 compared to the previous year. That is a significant loss, more than one fourth of the market disappeared in one year. The majority of the demand comes from mobile devices by foreign manufacturers. We can speculate that a few Japanese flex manufacturers lost some their customers to their competitors in Taiwan and Korea.
North America had a relatively strong year in 2019; revenue increased by 7.8% during 2019. This is much larger than their peers in other industrialized countries, and industry booking indicates more positive growth during the year (this was prior to the coronavirus outbreak). Unfortunately, January shipments from the industry in 2020 posted a decline, and forecasts are pessimistic for the rest of the year.
The global electronics and circuit board industries are reeling from the coronavirus ripples. Hopefully this will pass soon, and we can all get back to business as usual.
Dominique K. Numakura, firstname.lastname@example.org
DKN Research, www.dknresearch.com
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Headlines of the week
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- NIT (Technical college in Nagoya, Japan) 2/14
Has developed a new rechargeable fuel cell system. An organic molecule “AQDS-H2” generates H2 by irradiation of solar light.
- KST World (Venture company in Japan) 2/19
Has co-developed the world smallest full color laser module with Fukui University in Japan. Size: 11 x 4.3 x 3mm. KST will start volume production in this year.
- Nippon Shokubai (Specialty chemical supplier in Japan) 2/19
Has developed a new Carbon/Zinc hybrid secondary battery. As it uses stable materials it is nonflammable and safer. It has 100 times longer life compared with traditional lead base batteries.
- Trina Solar (Solar power module supplier in China) 2/27
Will commercialize a new double sided solar power generation panels “Duomax V” with 500W generation by 21% conversion rate.
- TSMC (Major semiconductor manufacturer in Taiwan) 3/3
Has agreed with ST Micro Electronics to cooperate for the supply of GaN base power semiconductors. The first samples will be released during the second half.
- Toshiba (Major electric & electronics company in Japan) 3/2
Has developed a new manufacturing process “TsRF11” for SOI (Silicon on Insulator). It will be valuable to produce new semiconductors for 5G smart phones.
- Tokyo University (Japan) 3/5
Has developed a new organic electrolyte solution with multiple functions for lithium ion batteries instead of ester carbonates. It will make the life longer and energy density higher.
- Sanyo Kasei and APB (Specialty chemical supplier in Japan) 3/5
Will have 8 billion yen fund for the project of all solid polymer base lithium ion battery. Many big firms gathered for the project.
- Nikkei BP (Business media in Japan) 3/6
Has been reporting how much valuable combination of iPhone and iPad is for deaf people while they have natural disaster.
- DNP (Major printing company in Japan) 3/6
Has developed a new evaluation method for the glaring on the surface of the LCD panels.
- Kyocera and Sony (Major electronics companies in Japan) 3/9
Have developed a new musical toothbrush with Lion Co., major tooth paste supplier in Japan. The music sound directly propagates to teeth and bones.
- Panasonic (Major electronics company in Japan) 3/9
Has developed a distance measuring device with high resolutions. The device detects 1~10 cm resolutions at 250 meter distance.
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