Why does material price increase have little effect on rigid flex PCB?

Starting in September 2020 and ending in July 2021, CCL(copper-clad laminates) has 7 rounds of price increases. Compared with last year’s low prices, the current prices of some products such as thick boards have doubled. This round of price increases is the largest increase in the PCB industry in the past 10 years.

Rise! Rise! Rise! It has become a problem that the PCB industry cannot bypass and has to face in 2021.

Why does the price of copper-clad laminates continue to rise?

We believe that it is mainly caused by the following three reasons. The shortage of raw materials upstream of the copper-clad laminate industry chain. The strong demand is downstream of the industrial chain. The COVID-19 caused the major economies to exceed Issuing currency, leading to inflation.

The raw materials of copper-clad laminates are mainly composed of copper, glass fiber, and resin.

PCB material 1 - Why does material price increase have little effect on rigid flex PCB?

The rising prices of various raw materials in the upstream have promoted the price increase of copper-clad laminates. Among the raw materials of copper-clad laminates, copper foil accounts for 30%-50%, glass fiber accounts for 25%-40%, and resin accounts for 25%-30% of the total cost.

It is understood that the current upstream copper foil production capacity of copper-clad laminates is very short. Affected by the outbreak of the new energy automobile industry, a group of manufacturers has switched to lithium battery copper foil, resulting in a large supply gap of electronic copper foil and rapid price increases. In addition, glass fiber, resin, etc., the main raw materials of copper foil substrates, have increased by as much as 30%-100%.

On the other hand, the substantial increase in the downstream demand of the copper-clad laminate industry chain such as consumer electronics, 5G base stations, and automotive electronics is also a key factor driving the price increase of copper-clad laminates.

Taking the main application of PCB downstream of copper-clad laminates as an example. Since the second half of last year, the demand in major downstream areas of PCB multilayers has entered a period of rapid recovery, until the current upward trend of prosperity continues.

 

However, the second round of price increases has little effect on the cost of the rigid flex board.

The cost structure of the rigid flex PCB

The main reason is that the cost structure of the rigid flex PCB, the proportion of the material is relatively very low. Taking the 4 layer rigid flex PCB as an example, CCL accounts for less than 5% of the overall cost. The main cost of the rigid flex board comes from its complicated processing costs. However, the situation of ordinary rigid boards is completely opposite. Taking ordinary double-sided PCB as an example, the proportion of materials is as high as about 30-40%, and the proportion of ordinary 4 layer boards is as high as 20-30%.

Cost structure of rigid flex PCB 1 - Why does material price increase have little effect on rigid flex PCB?

On the other hand, it is caused by the small increase in the overall cost of the flexible board. As we all know, the base material of the flexible board is FCCL, and the main raw materials of FCCL are polyester (PET) film and polyimide (PI) film. Compared with resin and glass fiber cloth, these materials have not increased so much, and because FCCL is much thinner than CCL, the amount of raw materials required is relatively small, so the overall cost of the flexible board has not increased much.

The above two reasons can explain why the price of rigid flex PCB can not increase even though the price of rigid board is raised by 15-30%.