May 2019

North American PCB Sales Lead First-Quarter Industry Growth

North American electronics industry sales growth in the first quarter of 2019 was mixed, but the printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication segment led the industry in strengthening growth. First-quarter sales growth for electronics manufacturing services (EMS) held steady in positive territory, while semiconductor sales continued to trend sharply downward. These year-over-year growth rates reflect three-month rolling averages.

The leading indicators remained positive in March 2019. The U.S. Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which tends to lead industry sales by two to six months, experienced normal volatility. The PMI trended downward in late 2018, but it remains positive (above 50), where it has been for over two years. The 3/12 rate of change for U.S. new orders for electronic products, which leads industry sales by one to three months, held steady in March in positive territory.

Another leading indicator is IPC’s PCB book-to-bill ratio. It is based on three-month rolling averages of orders and sales, and normally leads industry sales by three to nine months. The book-to-bill ratio fell to 1.00 in March. The ratio has been above parity (1.00) for over two years. Ratios above parity indicate greater demand than supply, which may be a precursor of sales growth for electronics manufacturers, especially when a run of positive ratios over several months is seen. Ratios below parity indicate the reverse.

These indicators suggest the likelihood of slowing but continued sales growth for the EMS and PCB segments of the industry through the first half of 2019.


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Notes:

  1. This information is provided by IPC International, Inc. 
  2. Other industry data can be found at www.ipc.org.
  3. Three-month rolling averages smooth out some of the volatility in monthly data to show clearer trends.
  4. The U.S. Department of Commerce revised its historical data on U.S. new orders for computers and electronic products, as of May 16, 2019. This graph reflects the revised data.

Sources: IPC statistical programs for the EMS and PCB industries; SIA for semiconductor data; U.S. Census Bureau for U.S. new orders for computer and electronic products; and Institute for Supply Management for the U.S. Purchasing Managers’ Index.

Market Research Reports

World Market Size Estimates

  Billions of U.S. Dollars For Year Source
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) $70.5* 2017 N.T. Information Ltd.
Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) $463.3 2017 New Venture Research
Electronic Equipment (Including Components) $1,756 2017 Reed Electronics Research

*The PCB estimate for 2017 includes the assembly value of PCBs (mainly flexible circuits) sold by fabricators that include some assembly, unlike previous IPC estimates of world PCB market size. The new data are published in IPC’s World PCB Production Report for the Year 2017, which is available in IPC’s online store..

Note: Changes in currency exchange rates affect these dollar amounts from year to year.

Lead-Free Trends

Source: IPC Global Solder Statistical Program and Global Solder Market Report

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