BANNOCKBURN, IL – A new report by IPC reveals cycles in demand for PCB prototypes that often differ from demand trends in regular or volume-production PCB sales.
Despite high volatility in prototype sales from month to month, data show clear cycles in prototype sales growth year-over-year. Rigid PCB and flexible circuit prototype sales do not always reflect growth in the rigid PCB and flexible circuit markets overall, says IPC.
Over the past four years, 2015 represents the peak in rigid PCB prototype growth, when overall rigid PCB sales growth has been flat, says IPC. In the first half of 2017, rigid PCBs and rigid PCB prototype sales both fell year-over-year, but the downturn for prototypes was more severe. In contrast, flex circuit prototype sales took a nosedive in 2015, while overall flex sales were up that year. Flex prototype sales rebounded sharply in the first half of 2017, while regular-production flex sales fell below last year’s levels.
Different drivers are the likely explanation for the different patterns of growth in sales of prototypes versus regular-production PCBs. New product development is a major driver of prototype work, while regular-production PCB sales tend to be more cyclical, reflecting economic conditions and end-user demand, IPC said.