Electronics Industry Seeks Clarity from U.S. Commerce Secretary Raimondo on PCB Sector Funding
Dedicated funds would help ensure success of the CHIPS Act and Biden’s “Presidential Determination” on PCBs
IPC and the Printed Circuit Board Association of America (PCBAA) are calling on the U.S. Department of Commerce to clarify its plans for bolstering the domestic development and fabrication of advanced printed circuit boards (PCBs) as a key part of the CHIPS for America program.
In a letter sent to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, IPC President and CEO John W. Mitchell and PCBAA Chairman Travis Kelly applauded the “positive signals” that have been sent by the Biden administration regarding greater support for PCBs:
- In March, President Joe Biden issued a “Presidential Determination” under the Defense Production Act (DPA) that prioritizes the domestic manufacture of PCBs as a matter of national security.
- In launching the first round of funding under the CHIPS for America program, Raimondo announced the U.S. will become a global leader in related chip packaging technologies.
- The week before that, Raimondo confirmed that some of the CHIPS Act funding will go to “smaller firms,” including “circuit-board companies.”
“As the U.S. electronics sector faces significant challenges in the global market, it is crucial to develop strategies that foster growth, innovation, and competitiveness across this vital industry,” Mitchell wrote.
“Chips, in fact, have no functionality until they are packaged and placed on PCBs by electronics manufacturers who assemble systems. Yet, the United States is more dependent on overseas suppliers for PCBs and packaging than they are for semiconductor chips.”
IPC is also calling on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittees in the House and Senate to allocate $100 million in Fiscal 2024 to implement President Biden’s presidential determination on PCBs. The funding also would advance the goals of the CHIPS and Science Act, which aims to ensure the autonomy and resiliency of the U.S. supply chain for semiconductors and advanced electronics.
A 2022 report by the Commerce Department noted, “PCBs are essential for the electronic functions of ICT hardware as well as for a wide array of automotive, defense, and medical devices. [But] In the past 20 years China has overtaken the U.S. as the global leader in PCB manufacturing and sales.” A 2018 Commerce Department report characterized the PCB sector as “dying on the vine.”
According to “Leadership Lost,” a report published by IPC, the United States “has lost its historic dominance in the PCB sector.” Since 2000, the U.S. share of global PCB production has fallen from over 30% to just 4%, with China now dominating the sector at around 50%. Any loss of access to non-domestic sources of PCBs would be “catastrophic,” the report said.