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How Global Shortages are Impacting Printed Circuit Boards

Global PCB shortages

Seems like every time you read the news, there is yet another article about how the pandemic is impacting our lives. Unfortunately, the printed circuit board and assembly industry has not gone unscathed by the pandemic as ongoing global shortages are impacting printed circuit boards. 

What shortages are impacting printed circuit board manufacturing?

The pandemic, partnered with a higher-than-anticipated demand for new hardware, created conditions for a shortage of vital printed circuit board raw materials. Specifically, COVID-19 related quarantine mandates created a shortfall in foil copper supplies used to make PCBs. Demand for copper foil is increasing from both PCB and battery production for e-mobility leading to an upward price pressure for copper foils as post lockdown pent-up demand starts to exceed capacity. Lead times are stretching and prices are increasing. This negatively impacts PCB manufacturers and their supply base. Demand for aluminum in metal-backed printed circuit boards (MPCB) is also increasing, exacerbating already strained supplies.

What’s the result of these shortages?

In short, global printed circuit board supply shortages are causing widespread manufacturing delays in several industries, including automotive and electronics. The automotive industry has been the most visibly impacted by this shortage. Many major car brands announced that they needed to reduce production expectations and acknowledged that they anticipate falling short of 2021 production targets. For the electronics sector, it was previously reported that PCB components are running more than fifty weeks behind the original schedule. Pricing for components has also gone up substantially as a result of these shortages.

Will shortages reside as COVID comes under control?

While it would be easy to simply assume this is a temporary bump in the road, that is not necessarily true. After tariffs were imposed on imported Chinese goods and factories were shut down due to the coronavirus, manufacturers rushed to foresee what was ahead for their already-strained inventory. However, the pandemic is not the only issue; it actually exposed pre-existing cracks in the global supply chain that won’t be resolved any time soon.

How are businesses dealing with this shortage?

This component shortage is leading to redesigns of many products just to fit what components are available. With the industry experiencing shortages in both materials and components, these shortages have a significant effect on the production of printed circuit boards. In response, some industries have been obsoleting some older components and combining their functionality into newer standard devices. This could impact OEMs building legacy products that can no longer access the older parts they need. Failing to be prepared for component shortages can wreak havoc on a company’s PCB development schedule. As a result, companies may be required to redesign PCBs to accommodate an alternative component that is available, which could add significant time and costs to the product’s overhead. Though no one could have adequately predicted this pandemic-influenced shortage, working with a professional PCB manufacturing and assembly resource can help you plan and adjust for such shortages. Companies like OnBoard Circuits, Inc. understands the fluctuations in materials caused by component lifecycles or technology updates. As such, they know how to source out what is needed to get the job done. To protect against such situations, focusing on alternative components and volume buying can help offset unforeseen situations.

While the current global shortages are substantial, it’s important to know that there’s always a shortage of some components somewhere. Understanding how to navigate these shortages when it comes to printed circuit board manufacturing and assembly can help keep the negative impact on production to a minimum. From military and aerospace to home appliances and university research projects, OnBoard Circuits, Inc. understands the breadth of the PCB industry and its challenges and can help you perfect your PCB projects from design to functionality.

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