Dominique Numakura's Newsletter from Japan
May 05, 2006
KPCA Show - 2006
The largest PWB exhibition in Korea was held for three days beginning on April 25 at the COEX Convention Center in Seoul. I visited the exhibition for only three hours during my Asian trip, therefore I could not see all of the show; however, I could see new trends developing for the Korean PWB industry.
A staff member for the KPCA office told me the show size this year is slightly larger than last year. Attendance during the first day was 20% higher than the previous year, and during my visit on the second day, I noted the crowd seemed to be much larger than the previous year.
I surveyed many companies about current business conditions, and most replied conditions were not great, nor were they at rock bottom. The circuit board industry depends on the cellular phone business, specifically, Korean manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. The Korean cellular phone manufacturers are planning an aggressive campaign during the second quarter for both domestic sales and export sales. The industry is predicting an increase during the second quarter.
In my opinion, there was more representation from domestic companies than foreign companies at the exhibition. There were few Japanese machine companies compared to the Koreans. Korean machine companies encompass the entire manufacturing process for a variety of printed circuit boards. In the past, Korean vendors would promote their products as a cheaper alternative to their Japanese counterparts; nowadays, they proclaim their products are better.
Flexible circuits were a hot topic last year; however, they cooled down this year. Many companies still displayed something about flexible circuits, but there were no new flex circuit manufactures or material suppliers. Several people told me some of the new entrants already gave up the adhesiveless laminate business because of too much competition during the last two years. All of the major multilayer board companies displayed fine flexible circuits and rigid/flex designed for cellular phones, but none were noteworthy as far as innovative new technologies. On the other hand, there were several unique technologies revealed at the booths occupied by mid level and small flex circuit companies. A domestic prototype shop unveiled a 10 micron L/S traces on thin flexible substrates.
Manufacturing equipment companies are more aggressive. They were introducing many new machines with new ideas to produce large volumes of fine flexible circuits.
The president of one domestic flexible circuit manufacturer told me the company is buying most of their materials and machines from domestic vendors with only a few exceptions in certain applications. A couple of new issues have arisen such as higher labors costs, and the recent appreciation of the Korean won against foreign currencies. Korean flex circuit manufacturers do not export much, but their customers have a huge stake in the exporting business and are asking for substantial price cuts, sometimes more than 30%. (It is not a cost down.) The Korean manufacturers are experiencing the same situations as the Japanese during 1980's and early 90's. I suppose most of the Korean companies can survive if they learn from the history of the Japanese companies who established their foundations during this time period.
Headlines of the week
Shibaura Mechatronics (Equipment manufacturer in Japan)
Will invest 2.35 billion yens to build new plant buildings in Korea and Japan for the 7th and 8th generation manufacturing equipment of LCD panels.
NEC (Major electronics company in Japan)
Has commercialized a new full color TFT-LCD panel with a high brightness for the out door use.
Nikkei Shinbun (Major newspaper in Japan)
DSC manufacturers in Taiwan have been increasing the OEM production for Japanese companies. Their global share in 2005 reached over 40%.
NEC (Major electronics company in Japan)
Has developed an innovative optical transmission technology in the semiconductor devices. Its speed is 100 times faster than copper wires.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (Major equipment vendor in Japan)
Has developed a new welding technology of silicon wafers for 3D packaging and MEMS processing. The new technology makes the welding at room temperature using atomic beam technology.
Yokogawa Electric (Equipment manufacturer in Japan)
Will expand the business of the manufacturing equipment of large LCD panels. Yokogawa will cover the whole manufacturing processes.
Ube Materials (Subsidiary of Ube Industry)
Has developed a new blue color photo luminescence material for the PDP applications. The new material has a higher efficiency of electron emission than current materials.
TMD (Major display device manufacturer in Japan)
Has started the production of the world thinnest & lightest LTPS TFT-LCD (2.9 mm thick) for the notebook personal computers.
Konica-Minolta (Camera & film manufacturer in Japan)
Will invest 14 billion yens to build a new manufacturing plant of TAC films for LCD panels.
Sumitomo Osaka Cement (Material company in Japan)
Will widen the manufacturing capabilities of the EM shielding films to 1500 mm wide introducing roll printing process for the large size PDP panels.
FDK (Passive device manufacturer in Japan)
Has commercialized a new small size chip inductor "MIPF 2016 Series" for the portable electronics. The size 2.0 x 1.6 2.0 mm is 40% smaller than previous models.
Hitachi Maxell (Memory material supplier in Japan)
Has developed one tera bite class memory device "SVOD". One hundred 92 microns thick optical discs are stacked in a 65 mm thick cartridge.
Alps Electric (Device manufacturer in Japan)
Has rolled out a new reflection type color TFT-LCD panel "LPU Series" with a high contrast (60:1) for mobile equipment.