Printed circuit boards are widely used, and the following four major technology trends are expected to maintain leadership in the PCB market for a long time and take the entire PCB industry in different directions.
Because printed circuit boards are so versatile, even small changes in consumer trends and emerging technologies can have an impact on the PCB market, including how it is used and manufactured.
While there may be more time to go, here are four major technology trends that are expected to remain at the forefront of the PCB market and take the entire PCB industry in a different direction for a long time.
High-density interconnection and miniaturization
When computers were first invented, some people might spend their lives doing work on a computer that took up an entire wall. Today, even calculator watches, let alone smartphones, have several orders of magnitude more computing power than those behemoths.
The entire manufacturing industry is now in the eye of a whirlwind of innovation, much of it for miniaturisation. Our computers are getting smaller, and so is everything else.
Across the consumer spectrum, there seems to be a growing preference for smaller gadgets. Miniaturization means we can build smaller, more efficient houses and control them. Cheaper, more efficient cars and so on.
Because PCB is the fundamental component of electronic products, PCB must also pursue miniaturization.
Especially in the PCB market, this means adopting high-density interconnect technology. Further improvements in HDI technology will further reduce PCB sizes and reach more and more industries and commodities in the process.
Advanced materials and green manufacturing(PCB market)
At a time when the PCB industry is being affected by very real climate and social pressures, the PCB manufacturing process needs to evolve in a sustainable way.
Indeed, PCB manufacturers have always been a hot topic when it comes to the crossroads between development and environmental protection. The introduction of lead-free solder, for example, requires more energy-intensive manufacturing processes. Since then, the industry has been forced to find a new balance.
In other respects, PCB has been ahead of the game. Traditionally, PCBS have been made using fiberglass as a base material, and most people see them as relatively environmentally friendly. Further developments could see fiberglass replaced by materials more suitable for high data transfer rates, such as resin-coated copper and liquid crystal polymers.
As manufacturing efforts of all types continue to adjust their footprints to a changing planet, the link between social needs and the convenience of production and business will become the new norm.
Wearable devices and pervasive computing
PCBS are getting thicker and more functional every year, and now we have a lot of practical applications for small boards.
Over the past few decades, consumer electronics as a whole has been an important driver of PCB manufacturing and use. Now that wearables have entered the space and are starting to emerge as a credible consumer product category, PCBS will follow.
Like smartphones, wearable technologies require printed circuit boards, but they go a step further. Their emphasis on design efficiency goes far beyond what was possible with past technology.
Health and medical technology and public supervision
The introduction of modern digital technology into medicine has been one of the biggest developments in recent human history. Technology now means we can store patient records securely in the cloud and manage them through apps and smartphones.
But rapid advances in medical technology have also affected PCBS in some very interesting ways, and vice versa. The on-board camera is a new development that even allows ultra-high fidelity cameras to be fixed to the PCB itself. The medical implications are huge: when cameras need to be inserted, swallowed or otherwise introduced into the body, the smaller the better. Some onboard cameras are now small enough to be swallowed.
As for public surveillance, onboard cameras and smaller PCBS can also assist. For example, dashcams and vest cams have shown a useful role in mitigating illegal behaviour, and a number of consumer technologies have emerged to meet this need. A number of popular mobile accessory companies are exploring ways to offer drivers smaller and less eye-catching dashboard cameras, including and including connected hubs to interact with your phone while you’re driving.
New consumer technologies, medical advances, manufacturing breakthroughs and strong trends are fascinating. Incredibly, PCB is the chance to be at the heart of it all.
That means it’s an exciting time to be in the field.
What other technologies will bring new developments to the PCB market in the future? Let’s keep looking for answers.