Circuit World

ISSN: 0305-6120

Article publication date: 1 March 2003



Goosey, M. (2003), "Editorial", Circuit World, Vol. 29 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/cw.2003.21729aaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited


The last time that I wrote an editorial for Circuit World was in October 2001 when we were all beginning to realise that the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) industry was in the midst of a downturn that was likely to be severe and protracted. It is now June 2002 and, to a large extent, the most pessimistic predictions of many forecasters have indeed proved to be correct. The electronics industry globally has shed huge numbers of workers, the industry has contracted in many regions and in some areas it is unlikely to return to its former size for many years, if ever. The predictions for when recovery will come have moved outwards and PCB makers and their suppliers still live in very difficult times. In Europe these difficulties have been compounded by the additional rationalisation of the PCB industry and the accompanying migration of volume manufacturing to China. There is little doubt now that the future of PCB manufacturing lies in the East and as capabilities are enhanced, it is becoming clear that we will begin to see future innovations increasingly being developed where the boards are being made. This of course then leads one to ask what will remain of the industry in Europe. There will probably still be a significant PCB manufacturing capability but it will not return to anything resembling what we have been familiar with in the past.

In April, the EIPC held its 2002 Spring conference in Rome and it had the very opposite title of "Strategies for Survival in the PCB Industry". It was encouraging to learn that there is still much good work taking place in Europe to develop innovative solutions for producing the circuit boards and interconnects of tomorrow. Whilst many of these innovations may ultimately find relatively limited use in niche applications, this is, perhaps to a certain extent, where the European PCB industry's future lies. The Institute of Circuit Technology's recent annual symposium also addressed similar topics with its theme of "Niche Manufacturing" and again there was an interesting selection of presentations giving details of various novel technologies and new methods for making circuitry.

In view of the likely importance of these high technology niche approaches to the European industry, this issue contains reports from both of the meetings, as well as paper versions of some of the presentations that were given. If, as predicted, European volume PCB manufacturing is lost for good to the Far East, we would all do well to pay more attention to those areas of interconnection technology where European manufacturers can, and still do excel.

Martin Goosey

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