Productronica - contrary to Electronica - is the fair for the suppliers of PCB producers, whereas Electronica is the fair for PCB producers themselves to showcase their portfolios. Among the seven halls occupied, one main hall was basically dedicated fully to the needs of PCB producers. The seven active halls at Productronica represent less than half the capacity of the "Messe Munich", it is also the same number of active halls present at the previous Productronica two years ago. The main PCB supplier hall B1 was reasonably frequented. At a first glance, the interest was good.
Although the occasional Asian visitor and eventually a few Americans were spotted, it quickly became evident that the show is more and more a European/ Eastern European visitors show.
Purchasing Appetite for Investment Goods
After discussions with several equipement producers, it became clear that the purchasing appetite for new lines of European PCB producers is very limited! The market is flooded with used equipment from shops that have closed down recently (e.g. PPC in Switzerland). Some of the well-known European equipment suppliers are sailing through some rough waters right now.
Moves of Tier 1 Suppliers "Automotive"
Some discussions revealed that the PCB factory control power (e.g. quality/ purcahsing) of the huge Tier 1 Automotive suppliers (e.g. Bosch, Continental) is becoming increasingly decentralized. For the above topics, more decision-making power is given to their subsidiaries in Asia since most of their boards are coming from here.
White Soldermask for Automotive
Talking to some major soldermask suppliers made it clear that the three topics of discoloration, matrix flexibility and maximum reflectivity are very high up on the agenda in all research departments. All suppliers are eyeing the huge demand from whitin the dashboard, fron and backlight LED applications.
A Swiss equipment manufacturer is pushing the interesting development of soldermask direct imaging, showing that Europe's innovative power in euiqpment development is strill strong. This is an interesting technologyy especially for prototype shops - the major business model in Europe´s PCB industry today.
The Bottom Line
Productronica 2013 was another indicator that the European PCB manufacturing industry is rather moving sideways. Invesment decisions are not taken lightly at all.
The above impressions lead us to conclude: the gap between domestically produced PCBs and imported PCBs will most likeyly widen further.