Current situation of the purchase of basic materials used for the production of PCBs

How has the format of material orders for PCB production changed? And have companies moved to a different model? What causes material supply shortages and how can this be dealt with.

Purchase of basic materials used for the production of PCBs

The general shortage of basic materials and problems in the logistics chain are also reflected in the ordering of basic materials for the production of PCBs.  Continued lock-downs in China, the war in Ukraine and the accumulation of previous problems with transport capacity are also affecting the supply of basic materials to Europe. Also, some production is returning to Europe, adding to the pressure on the production capacity of board producers. In Gatemala, PCBs are countering this by, on the one hand, actively and predictively managing inventories, focusing on European manufacturers (Isola), cooperating with other manufacturers and, on the other hand, sekán alternatives to materials commonly used in production.

We are constantly expanding our portfolio of materials

One of the alternatives is Ventec VT-47, which can be used to replace 370HR – both materials are suitable for high Tg applications (above 175 °C). We have also newly added the Isola DE104 material with a 50/50μm copper base and Cu foil also with a thickness of 50μm. This material is also newly classified as CAF resistant. Therefore It can be used when the requirement is for resistance to short circuits caused by intermetallic growth of copper between the layers. We also want to extend the 50μm copper base to include Isola IS400 materials.

Suppliers of base materials in Europe

The trend in the past has been to move production and manufacturing of base materials to Asia. Even European suppliers are very often dependent on supplies of goods (cuttings, prepregs or foils), but also basic materials such as resin, fibreglass and copper from Asia. As long as just-in-time logistics worked, everything went smoothly. But as one upright ship showed, relying solely on global transport chains can be very risky. Manufacturers are now trying to diversify their risks and are again shifting some material production back to Europe. We believe that by the end of the year more materials could be available with shorter lead times and lower order quantities. We are also attempting to negotiate with suppliers to increase the inventory they hold in stock (consignment warehouses). While we cannot expect the shift of production to Europe to result in any discounting, we believe that faster availability of materials will help our customers to complete their projects. Especially for more sophisticated prototype production.

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Ondřej Horký
Sales Manager