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The electronics manufacturing industry is welcoming the reintroduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Congress that would help rebuild the country’s printed circuit board (PCB) sector.
The Protecting Circuit Boards and Substrates Act, reintroduced today by Reps. Blake Moore (R-UT) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), incentivizes purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as support industry investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development.
The legislation comes amid increasing attention to the wider electronics supply chain into which semiconductors fit. In March, President Joe Biden issued a “Presidential Determination” under the Defense Production Act (DPA) that prioritizes the domestic manufacture of PCBs as a matter of national security. The month before, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told a podcast that “circuit board” companies would have opportunities for CHIPS Act funding.
IPC President and CEO John W. Mitchell said, “This bipartisan bill addresses well-known vulnerabilities in U.S. electronics manufacturing, taking a ‘silicon-to-systems’ approach that prioritizes greater innovation and resiliency across the entire industry. We thank Reps. Eshoo and Moore for their leadership, 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 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%. 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. For example, 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.