How will the pandemic play out in the PCB world?

Here we are, nine months into 2020, with little insight as to how the rest of the year will turn out for printed circuit fabricators. When was the last time that occurred? Perhaps more than a decade ago? The 5G implementation drove revenue gains at the best-performing PCB fabricators last year and are providing a foundation for 2020 as well. Automotive, on the other hand, is sputtering, as car sales have crashed with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Who could have seen any of this when the book closed on 2019?

Six months of effort resulted in this latest NT-100 report, now in its 25th annual edition. As mentioned many times, each year it gets harder to compile the list, thanks to many new entries from growing Chinese fabricators, only one-quarter of which are publicly traded and publish annual reports (not always in time for the purpose of this report). The data from most unlisted Chinese fabricators are extracted from the “Top 100 Fabricators” published by CPCA. Unfortunately, valuable as it is, the CPCA list has some flaws in that it misses some important fabricators, and some entries are by factory, not company. Nevertheless, without the CPCA data, the NTI-100 would not be possible. TPCA data are valuable but include only stock-listed fabricators. Therefore, this author contacted those fabricators not publicly listed. They gracefully provided their sales revenues. Likewise, only AT&S and Schweizer Electronics publish annual reports. Other European entries, including KSG, Somacis and Würth Elektronik, provided the author their revenues. Southeast Asia fabricators were likewise cooperative. The author expresses gratitude to all who provided the valuable data.

Still, many entries are estimates, particularly those operations that are part of large corporations. Usually, they do not break out their PCB revenues. The author made educated guesses in these cases. Some errors, big or small, do exist. The author is solely responsible for any errors. He hopes PCB manufacturers can compare where they stand among competitors, and equipment and materials fabricators can see where to “attack.” In summary, readers are cautioned the rankings are a reasonably accurate portrayal of the largest PCB fabricators, but do not assume total accuracy.

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