Global PCB Market and Supply Chain Challenges

A look at the state of the PCB market, fabrication challenges, and supply chain Issues.


Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are used in a wide variety of materials, from household equipment to ocean exploration. Looking at the market in general:

  • Due to a variety of factors, the global Circuit Board Assembly industry production volume dropped by 1.7 percent year on year to $61.3 billion in 2019.
  • Despite the effect of COVID-19 on the market, the accelerated growth of 5G has allowed the PCB Fabrication sector to expand. The global PCB export volume is expected to hit $62.5 billion in 2020 and $79.2 billion by 2025.

Flexible circuits and Quick Turn PCB Assembly are expected to rise much faster than rigid PCBs in the global economy since the former will reduce form factor and replace connectors. However, in most cases, PCB Prototype Manufacturers concentrate on single-sided, double-sided, and multi-layered PCBs with a four to six-layer count.

As we all know, the Quick Turn PCB Assembly should be at the heart of the EMS supply chain and is one of the most critical components, but the PCB supplier's position is constantly evolving. It's not enough to provide a high-quality commodity to succeed in such a crowded market; they must add value to every part of the supply chain. The Circuit Board Assembly has been the only constant in a very competitive component industry for the past year.

However, there is a sense in the market that something is going to change.” Major growth factors include the popularity of portable mobile devices such as watches and high-quality headphones and the mainstream adoption of game consoles, smart appliances, products, and the widespread adoption of the 5G evolution. As technology advances, it's essential to choose a PCB provider that can meet the current needs and respond to those of the next 5-10 years.

The Challenges

The following are the top challenges facing global PCB manufacturing: 

  • Access to new technologies and cutting-edge production facilities is limited. This means PCB Prototype Manufacturers are unable to invest in modern machinery that often needs replacing after as little as four years.
  • Inefficiencies in logistics and infrastructure bottlenecks lead to slower processing times and higher costs.
  • Various layers in the electronics industry, from parts to finished goods, are operating with contradictory policies.
  • Inventory prices rise due to an inadequate manufacturing chain and the non-availability of many essential raw materials.
  • The PCB industry's poor capital-output ratio necessitates large investments and high interest rates. As a result, profitability is a concern.

The supply chain issues have also been widely publicized, and include:

  • Accessibility: Many PCB Fabrication processing delays can be traced back to simply lack of materials. This can emanate from shortages, quality issues or long lead times. Before the design goes into development, it's critical to double-check that the parts listed for it are available.
  • Status: As previously stated, a discontinued component that was used inadvertently in a schematic will trigger a slew of issues. It can be difficult and costly to procure OBS and EOL parts for older projects that need them for new builds. New designs should attempt to stop using them if at all necessary.
  • Cost: Different PCB suppliers and PCB Prototype manufacturers will sell the same components at varying prices for various reasons. Finding the right price for the materials used for the design will pay off in the end. Depending on how many boards will be made, any analysis into the necessary parts will reveal discounted prices that can be purchased for bulk orders. Designers may also stop paying higher premiums for hurried orders if they order ahead of time.
  • Integrity: Unfortunately, some component suppliers are not as respectable as the remainder of the business. They may not have as stringent quality management, or they may cut corners in their production processes. It's helpful to know which vendors have the highest-quality parts and develop a trusting relationship.
  • Quality: You should not only use parts from registered and reputable suppliers, but you should also search for consistency indicators in the materials you're using. Is there a quality improvement scheme in place daily? Have the parts been assembled, packed, and treated in a way that ensures good friction and moisture control? Are the components properly traceable and recorded to meet circuit board assembly production regulatory standards?

To ensure that the pieces you're using function as planned on your Quick Turn PCB Assembly, you'll need to pay equal attention to all five of these regions.

When a PCB Prototype Manufacturer receives your specification, one of the first things they can do is check it for manufacturability. Not only can they examine the bill of materials for the five fields addressed, but they'll also look for potential design for packaging issues and circuitry questions. To do so, their component engineers will study the parts specified to ensure that they are affordable, current, at the right price, and come from reputable suppliers.


Laura Stevens works as a digital marketing manager at PCBGOGO, a manufacturer of high-quality PCBs and PCB assembly services.

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