North American Competitiveness

The Printed Board National Security Dilemma

With the flow of manufacturing moving offshore the number of North American military printed board suppliers has been dramatically reduced. This loss combined with shrinking R&D budgets is having a significant impact on future technological innovation for military applications.

National security is an important priority for all — a priority that the printed circuit board industry plays a vital role in. Recognizing this fact, Congress mandated the Department of Defense (DoD) to designate a printed circuit board (PCB) Executive Agent (EA) to strengthen national defense readiness. IPC formed a panel of experts from among its membership for the purpose of advocating the positions and policy directions to the PCB Executive Agent. The goal of this task force is to advise the Executive Agent of the actions necessary to the creation and sustenance of a PCB industry capable of supporting DoD and prime OEM needs.

Learn more about action taken to address the printed board national security dilemma

Declining Research and Development (R&D)

Over the years, much of the R&D for printed board technology took place within the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). This information was then shared with the manufacturing and materials supply base to assure that the needed capability existed to build future OEM products. As the OEMs outsourced most if not all of their printed circuit board manufacturing, they no longer had either the resources or the commitment to continue materials or manufacturing R&D.

In 1980, OEMs manufactured approximately 50 percent of the printed circuit boards in the U.S. This percentage dropped to 35 percent in 1990, to 4 percent in 1999 and today no U.S. OEMs manufacture printed boards. The independent printed board manufacturers certainly benefited by the increased business, but they don't have the capital necessary to invest in research and development at the levels previously done by the OEM.

The dramatic effects of this decline have been particularly intense in the North American electronics interconnection industry. Job losses are in the tens of thousands and production capacity for closed PCB facilities is permanently shut down.

Learn more about R&D tax credits

Support for Re-establishing a Rare Earth Oxide, Metal, Alloy and Permanent Magnet Manufacturing Supply Chain

Supporting efforts to re-establish the rare earth metals supply chain in the U.S. is important for the electronics industry. Rare earth oxides, metals, and alloys are used in many advanced materials, technologies, and products, including high strength permanent magnets, electronics, 'green energy' sources, and numerous other applications. Many studies and a recent survey of electronics companies identified that the demand for rare earth metals may well exceed supply within the next two years. The looming shortage of the availability of rare earth metals for use in electronics is a very serious and urgent situation for the industry. If electronics companies wish to manufacture products using rare earth metals then the future supply of rare earth materials must be available.

Learn more about ongoing efforts and actions taken supporting re-establishment of a U.S. rare earth supply chain

Emerging Critical Interconnection Technology (E/CIT) Program

IPC formed and successfully found funding for the E/CIT program. The goal for E/CIT is to aid the North American PCB manufacturing industry by researching state-of-the-art advances in design, development, and manufacturing processes. The E/CIT program has a complete state-of-the-art printed board manufacturing facility, comprehensive failure analysis lab, environmental test and evaluation lab, and extensive computer modeling capabilities to support this goal.

Learn more about the Emerging Critical Interconnection Technology (E/CIT) Program

Help the North American printed board industry by showing your support for the Department of Defense Printed Circuit Board Executive Agent