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The year 2014 was a bumper year for most PCB companies, with the total output value of the entire PCB industry reaching $12.5 billion, up by 10.5% from the previous year. This year, the prices of bulk commodities, particularly copper prices, plummeted—greatly reducing the raw material costs for PCB companies and thereby helping raise their profitability. This, according to a report titled "Global and China FPCB Industry Report, 2014-2015" by market analyst Research In China.
However, one factor greatly affecting the industry is the currency exchange. In 2014, the euro, the NTD (New Taiwan Dollar) and the yen significantly devalued, while the South Korean won appreciated—which not only hit a serious blow to the competitiveness of South Korean FPCB enterprises, but slashed the profits of South Korean PCB enterprises. Revenues and profit margins of all South Korean PCB companies declined; for example, Flexcom's sales slumped by more than 50%, and the giant Interflex's revenue dropped 33% and its operating margin was -14.2%--this reflects the power of the currency war, according to the report.
Benefiting from the currency depreciation, Taiwanese and European companies, meanwhile, witnessed soaring profit margins. Although more than half of Japanese companies did not benefit from the depreciation of the yen because they set up production bases overseas, they still fared better than their South Korean counterparts.
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Denis Jacques, Technic Inc.
About three decades ago, immersion silver, a nitrate-based process, gained a lot of market share in the world of PCB final finishes. More economical than ENIG, flat, solderable, and conductive, it had everything going for it—everything but corrosion resistance in a harsh environment, that is. Champagne voids were also an issue, along with line reduction. But the worst drawback, the characteristic that made the part short over time, was creep corrosion. A build-up of copper sulfide salt that grows in contact with a sulfur-rich environment, heat, and moisture resulted in failures in the field. This was enough to scar the process for good.
Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Örebro, Sweden on June 15 brought a bright and early start to Day 2 of the EIPC Summer Conference for those who had enjoyed the previous evening’s networking dinner, but had resisted the temptation to over-indulge or to carry on their long-awaited catch-up conversations with old friends into the small hours. All but a few were in their seats for 9 a.m., awake and attentive for Session 4 of the conference, on the theme of new process technologies, moderated by Martyn Gaudion, CEO of Polar Instruments.
Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
At last, a live EIPC conference and this time in the Swedish city of Örebro, “where history and contemporary culture converge,” a pleasant and convenient location for an event that included a privileged visit to the Ericsson facility in Kumla. Around 100 delegates made the journey and the Örebro Scandic Grand Hotel was an excellent conference venue for the June 14-15 conference.