Because PCBs (printed circuit boards) are so versatile, even small changes in consumer trends and emerging technologies can have an impact on the PCB market, including how it is used and manufactured.
Although there may be more time, the following four major technology trends are expected to maintain the leadership of the PCB market for a long time and lead the entire PCB industry in different directions.
1- High Density Interconnection and Miniaturization
When computers were first invented, some people probably spent their entire lives getting work done on computers that took up entire walls. And today, even calculator watches have orders of magnitude more computing power than those behemoths, let alone smartphones.
The entire manufacturing industry is currently in the sight of a whirlwind of innovation, much of which is in the service of miniaturization. Our computers are getting smaller and everything else is getting smaller.
Across the consumer base, there seems to be a gradual shift towards smaller electronics. Miniaturization means we can build smaller, more efficient homes and control them. And cheaper, more efficient cars and more.
Since PCBs are vital basic components in electronic products, PCBs must also relentlessly pursue miniaturization.
Especially in the PCB market, this means using high-density interconnect technology. Further improvements in HDI technology will further reduce the size of PCBs and touch more and more industries and commodities in the process.
2- Advanced Materials and Green Manufacturing
Nowadays, the PCB industry is being affected by some very real impacts such as climate and social pressure. The PCB manufacturing process needs to keep up with the trend of the times and evolve towards sustainable development.
In fact, PCB manufacturers have always been a hot topic when it comes to the crossroads of development and environmental protection. The introduction of lead-free solder, for example, required more energy-intensive manufacturing processes. Since then, the industry has been forced to find a new balance.
In other respects, PCB has been leading the way. Polychlorinated biphenyls have traditionally been made using fiberglass as a substrate, which is considered by most to be a relatively environmentally friendly material. Further advancements could see fiberglass replaced by materials better suited for high data transfer rates, such as resin-coated copper and liquid crystal polymers.
As manufacturing efforts of all types continue to adjust their footprints to a changing planet, the link between societal needs and the convenience of production and business will become a new norm.
3- Wearables and Pervasive Computing
We’ve briefly covered the fundamentals of PCB technologies and how they enable greater complexity on thinner boards. Now we put this concept into practice. PCBs are decreasing in thickness and increasing in functionality every year, and now we have a lot of practical applications for small circuit boards.
Consumer electronics as a whole has been a significant driver of PCB manufacturing and usage over the past few decades. Now that wearables have entered this space and are starting to become a reliable consumer product type, related PCBs will follow.
Like smartphones, wearable tech requires printed circuit boards, but they go a step further. They place an emphasis on design efficiency far beyond what past technologies have been able to achieve.
4- Health Medical Technology and Public Oversight
The introduction of modern digital technologies into medicine has been one of the greatest developments in recent human history. Technology now means we can store patient records securely in the cloud and manage them through apps and smartphones.
However, the rapid development of medical technology has also affected PCBs and vice versa in some very interesting ways. The onboard camera is a new development, and it is even possible to fasten an ultra-high fidelity camera to the PCB itself. The medical implications are huge: When a camera needs to be inserted into the body, swallowed by the body, or otherwise introduced into the body, the smaller the better. Some onboard cameras are now small enough to be swallowed.
As for public surveillance, onboard cameras and smaller PCBs can also assist. For example, dash cams and vest cameras have shown useful roles in mitigating offenses, and a number of consumer technologies have emerged to meet this need. Many popular mobile accessory companies are exploring ways to offer drivers increasingly smaller, less obtrusive in-dash cameras that include and include connected hubs to interact with your phone while you’re driving.
New consumer technologies, advances in medicine, breakthroughs in manufacturing, and strong contemporary trends are fascinating. Incredibly, the PCB has the opportunity to be at the heart of it all.
That means entering the field is an exciting time.
In the future, what other technologies will bring new development to the PCB market? Let’s keep looking for answers.