Flex Market Boomed in 2012, and More to Come | Print |  E-mail
Written by Mike Buetow   
Monday, 28 January 2013 16:51

DUBLIN -- 2012 was a bumper year for flexible circuit manufacturers, which benefited from strong demand for tablet PCs and smartphones. Global revenues rose 15.2% year-over-year to $10.68 billion, says Research and Markets.

Flex PCBs grew faster than any other electronics parts or components in 2012, and will maintain strong momentum in 2013, the firm says. It predicts the flex market will grow 8.9% in 2013 to $11.63 billion.

Not all manufacturers will seize the opportunities, the firm said. Fujikura, for instance, suffered the largest decline last year, with sales dropping by half after the company was heavily hit by the Thailand flood in fall 2011. In 2013, Fujikura's FPCB business will recover slowly, but will be unlikely to regain orders in a short period of time.

Enjoying the market vacancy has been Nippon Mektron, whose revenue topped $3 billion in 2012. Zhen Ding Technology (ZDT), Hon Hai's PCB subsidiary, also achieved substantial growth on the backs of its major customer Apple, as it took share away from M-Flex in 2012.

Samsung's suppliers also surged. Interflex, which supplies both to Samsung and Apple, was one winner. Flexcom, which gets 70% of its revenue from Samsung, saw revenue soar 677% in 2012. SI Flex, by contrast, was dragged down by its big customer LG.

Research and Markets notes that there are dozens of flex circuit manufacturers in mainland China, but their businesses are very small, with annual revenue mostly under RMB 200 million, making it difficult to obtain stable orders. Another phenomenon was that some manufacturers began to withdraw from the sector. For example, Sumitomo Electric announced its exit from making flex at the end of March 2012; on Oct. 1, Sony Chemical & Information Device Corp. sold its chemicals business to a Japanese government agency, and renamed Dexerials, with 60% and 40% of the shares held by Development Bank of Japan and Unison Capital, respectively. As flex is also not a core business of Nitto Denko, its operations may be sold too, Research and Markets surmises.





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