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The electronics manufacturing industry is welcoming a new, bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Congress that would help bring back the country’s printed circuit board (PCB) sector.
The Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards Act of 2022, introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Blake Moore (R-UT), would incentivize purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as industry investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development. The bill’s provisions are modeled on the kinds of support provided to the closely related semiconductor sector under the CHIPS Act of 2021.
IPC President and CEO John Mitchell said: “This bipartisan bill addresses vulnerabilities in a key segment of the electronics manufacturing value chain, taking a ‘silicon-to-systems’ approach that prioritizes innovation, resiliency, and innovation across the electronics industry. We thank Reps. Eshoo and Moore for their leadership in helping to rebuild U.S. electronics manufacturing, and we call on all Members of Congress to support this bill.”
PCBs are as integral to electronics as semiconductor chips, their better-known partners. They are the physical platform upon which microelectronic components such as chips and capacitors are mounted and interconnected. Electronic systems cannot function without PCBs.
However, according to “Leadership Lost,” a report recently published by IPC, the United States “has lost its historic dominance in the PCB sector.” Since 2000, the U.S. share of global PCB production has fallen from over 30% to just 4%, with China now dominating the sector at around 50%. Only four of the top 20 electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies are based in the United States. Any loss of access to non-domestic sources of PCBs would be “catastrophic,” the report said.
Numerous government and industry reports have raised the alarm for almost 20 years. Most recently, a 2018 Commerce Department report characterized the sector as “dying on the vine,” and the department’s 2022 report on the information and communications technology (ICT) industry noted the same supply chain risks.