5G Industry Dividends Come, How Do PCB Manufacturers Distribute?

The issuance of 5G commercial licenses has driven the entire 5G industry chain into the fast track of development, and has promoted a significant increase in market demand including chips, devices, materials, equipment, transmission, networks, and terminals.


In particular, the construction of communication facilities such as antennas, base stations, and radio frequency modules upstream of the industrial chain has accelerated, driving the demand for communication materials required for 5G communication equipment to increase significantly, and the high-frequency and high-speed PCB display volume and price rising.


However, in the 5G era, the requirements for high transmission and high performance have doubled, and higher requirements have been placed on the design, raw materials, specifications, and manufacturing processes of high-frequency and high-speed PCB. When PCB manufacturers enjoy the first 5G market dividends, they also face With more challenges.


PCB manufacturers take the lead


As we all know, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a 5G license in early June. As one of the key components required for base stations, PCB manufacturers will take the lead.


Industry insiders said: "The unit price of 5G PCB will skyrocket. The value of a single base station circuit board is as high as 15,000 to 20,000 yuan, which is about three times that of a 4G base station circuit board."


According to third-party market data predictions, the global 5G base station hard board market size will be 4.7 billion yuan, 11.8 billion yuan, and 27.1 billion yuan from 2019 to 2021, while the 4G + 5G base station hard disk market size will be 12.8 billion yuan and 17.2 billion yuan. , 28.9 billion yuan.


Among the A-share listed companies in the domestic PCB industry, Shanghai Electric Power Co., Ltd., Shennan Circuits, and Shengyi Technology, which supply core main equipment and modules for Huawei, and PCB for transmission equipment accounted for more than 70%. The three major manufacturers realized Be the first to start.


It is reported that Shengyi Technology's independent research and development of hydrocarbon materials used in the field of power amplifiers has achieved mass production; Shennan Circuit's current high-speed PCB production line ramps smoothly and is expected to reach full production in the first half of this year; Shanghai Electric Power Co., Ltd. currently has the highest backplane The number of layers can reach 56 layers, and the maximum number of line boards can reach 32 layers, and it is expanding production in the third phase of the Huangshi factory for 5G demand.


It is true that 5G construction has accelerated the growth of the communications PCB market, which has given rise to huge market dividends for PCB upstream and downstream manufacturers. However, based on the current competitive landscape of the PCB industry, the current situation from upstream materials to manufacturers producing backplanes is mixed.


5G high-frequency copper clad laminate manufacturers are weak


Due to the demand of 5G for high-speed transmission and high-frequency communication, the materials of PCB / CCL will be upgraded to high-frequency materials, and the number of layers of communication boards will be developed to more layers, thereby driving the increase in unit prices and demand.


Among them, PCB relies heavily on copper clad laminates. As an important substrate for the production of PCB, copper clad laminates are mainly responsible for the three functions of PCB conductivity, insulation, and support. Their performance directly affects the overall performance of the PCB. At the same time, the single material cost of copper clad board is also the highest, accounting for about 30% of the total PCB material cost.


At present, mid-to-high-end copper-clad laminates are still dominated by overseas countries, especially copper-clad laminates for the upstream raw materials of PCBs. At present, there are very few domestic manufacturers of high-frequency materials R & D manufacturers. The domestic company that can support the use of high-frequency high-speed substrates is Shengyi Technology .


As a domestic independent brand, Shengyi Technology is the most complete copper clad laminate manufacturer in China with a wide range of product specifications. Its 5G high-frequency copper-clad laminates can partially replace the high-end products of Rogers in the United States, and the gradual release of high-frequency copper-clad laminates capacity has been realized in the first half of this year.


In the high-frequency and high-speed PCB market, Shengyi Technology has occupied an important market share in the field of high-frequency and high-speed copper clad laminates with years of layout and planning.


At present, Shengyi Technology has independently developed hydrocarbon materials used in the field of power amplifiers and has achieved mass production. It has also purchased a complete set of process, technology and equipment solutions from Japan's ZTE Chemicals PTFE products, and has successfully achieved product breakthroughs in the antenna field. Entered Huawei's 5G supply chain.


In addition, from 2018 to 2020, Shengyi Technology will expand production in Songshan Lake and Shaanxi production lines, and the first phase of Jiujiang Plant, and Shengyi Special Materials will be completed and put into production. Market share in the field of 5G high-frequency high-speed copper-clad laminates.


It cannot be ignored that China's current copper laminate industry has a relatively high market concentration, and there are certain technical barriers and process difficulties. Shengyi Technology is currently relatively leading. As the demand for the 5G market increases, more PCB manufacturers are still facing A range of cost and process issues.


5G high-frequency PCB manufacturers cost soar


As global PCB production capacity gradually shifts to mainland China, China's current domestic PCB output value accounts for more than half of the world, but the proportion of domestic PCB manufacturers is still very low, and there are many and small manufacturers.


Relative to the domestic PCB industry, the upstream copper clad manufacturers are weak, and the current situation of PCB manufacturers is also unsatisfactory. At present, the companies that account for more than 30% of the communications sector are only Shennan Circuit, Shanghai Electric Power Co., Ltd., Jingwang Electronics and Suntec Waiting for the four, other PCB manufacturers want to enter the 5G market, the biggest problem they will face is the cost pressure brought by the upgrade of 5G PCB boards in integration, process, raw materials and technology.


Jiwei learned that the 5G base station architecture includes antennas, integrated 2/3/4 / 5G BBU, and RRU that support full frequency bands. Among them, the mainstream antenna solution is a PCB made of hydrocarbon materials. Its price is about 3000-6000 yuan / square meter, and the average PCB price is about 1,900 yuan / square meter. The unit value will increase by 1.5-3 times.


At the same time, because 5G has higher requirements for the integration of the antenna system, AAU radio frequency boards need to integrate more components in a smaller size. To meet the isolation requirements, more layers of PCB are required. According to Prismark, PCB with more than 4 layers accounted for more than 70% of the total communication equipment, of which 8-16 layers accounted for 35.2%.


In addition, the size of the AAU radio frequency circuit board will be larger compared to the 4G period. Considering the increase of the 5G base station transmission power and the higher operating frequency band, the 5G radio frequency circuit board also has high-speed performance and high-frequency performance for materials. Pointed out higher requirements.


In summary, under the demand of higher upstream material requirements, increased number of layers, and larger specifications, the price of 5G PCB boards will increase significantly.


It is worth noting that with the changes in 5G base station architecture and the choice of materials, the processing difficulty of PCB boards has increased significantly.


According to data, the physical and chemical properties of high-frequency and high-speed materials are different from those of ordinary FR-4 materials, making the process of drilling, etching, and copper sinking in PCB board processing and production processes necessary. Multiple functions need to be implemented on the same PCB board, and different materials need to be mixed and pressed. This all challenges the technical strength of PCB manufacturers.


Therefore, under the influencing factors of rising raw material costs, increasing process difficulty, and increasing technical barriers, for 5G PCB manufacturers, there is an unlimited blue ocean prospect, but it is also difficult to score a cup.


Write at the end


At present, there are more than 1,500 PCB manufacturers in China, mainly located in areas with high concentration of electronics industries such as the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Bohai Rim. They have a large demand for basic components and have good transportation and water and electricity conditions.


Due to the current decentralization of the PCB industry and high environmental protection, coupled with factors such as the weak overall demand of global PCB manufacturers and rising raw material prices, the development of the entire PCB industry is currently uneven.


Driven by the demand for 5G communication equipment and terminal equipment, in addition to the copper-clad laminate leader Shengyi Technology and the old-fashioned head manufacturer of the PCB industry, Shennan Circuits and Shanghai Electric Power Co., Ltd., Suntec Technology, Jingwang Electronics and Hongxin Electronics, etc.


At present, PCB manufacturer Suntech entered the field of IC substrates in May this year, and it acquired a 35% stake in electroacoustic PCB manufacturer Punoway to realize the layout of MEMS sensor packaging substrates. After the acquisition is completed, Suntec Technology has formed a multi-product line layout of multi-layer PCB, HDI, FPC, and packaging substrates.


In addition, Jingwang Electronics also acquired 51% equity of Zhuhai Win-Win Soft Circuit Co., Ltd. for 278 million yuan in the same period last year, and in-depth layout of PCB; Hongxin Electronics released a fixed increase plan in November last year. Technical renovation and expansion project of flexible printed circuit board and SMT production line construction project in An'an factory.