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More than 50 CEOs urged Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to take concrete steps to address challenges confronting the entire U.S. electronics supply chain.
The letter organized by members of IPC, a global electronics manufacturing association, urges Sec. Raimondo to address “a fundamental mistake” that has characterized U.S. technology policy for decades: the idea that the United States can be a technology leader by designing electronic products that cannot be domestically manufactured.
The letter argues that despite the outsized importance of electronics in the modern economy, for decades, the United States has failed to sufficiently value the importance of electronics manufacturing. U.S. policy bolstered specific components of the electronics supply chain – especially semiconductors – without fully appreciating that electronics is a sophisticated ecosystem. Like any ecosystem, each component must be resilient for the entire ecosystem to thrive.
“The electronics industry is encouraged by President Biden’s commitment to boost investment in American manufacturing and semiconductor research,” said John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO. “U.S. investment in semiconductors is much needed, but so, too, is investing in the broader supply chain involved in packaging silicon and electronics components.”
The signatories support the Biden administration’s efforts to shore up the semiconductors supply chain, and they encourage the administration to develop concrete steps to achieve the following goals:
- Creation of a National Manufacturing Institute for Electronic Interconnection to scale up advanced manufacturing processes intended for consumer electronics while ensuring that reliability is increased for use in the safety-critical sectors of aerospace, defense, and transportation.
- Direct the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy to enact a Title III Program focused on developing advanced circuit board manufacturing processes and techniques for advanced materials and to modernize capital equipment to handle the new material processes.
- Boost funding and broaden the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) scope to include a specific focus on the electronics technologies segment (like they currently have for the food industry) and Supplier Scouting to help support small to medium-sized businesses in those areas.
- Expand the CHIPS for America Act review of supply chains to ensure electronics technology, including PCB manufacturing/assembly and advanced packaging, is incorporated.
- Develop trusted partnerships through international agreements with allied nations and provide for multiyear procurements of military electronics, enabling American manufacturers to plan and update capital improvements to manufacture tomorrow’s electronics systems, and enhancing supply chain resilience.
- Mandate a partnership between the Manufacturing Technologies (ManTech) Program and DARPA to provide a technology maturation and application transition pathway for leap-ahead packaging solutions developed by DARPA through a multi-year series of grand challenge events. This would enable U.S. electronics manufacturers to tackle their biggest technical challenges and develop the intellectual property to remain competitive in the future.
- Expand existing DOD- and DOE-wide bandgap compound semiconductor technology development programs to focus on modules and packaging to firmly establish this new high-performance semiconductor packaging segment in the United States before it moves overseas.
The electronics manufacturing industry is at the heart of the modern economy. It is a robust, vertical industry generating more than $700 billion a year in U.S. GDP and jobs for more than 5 million people. It is also a critical segment of the supply chain for every other sector of the economy, including automotive, defense, aviation, financial services, health care, consumer, telecommunications and agriculture. In today’s world, our lives depend on electronics, and that dependence is growing.
The full letter and signatories can be found here.