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Driven by the strong demand for electronic products and the ensuing increase in production of printed circuit boards (PCBs), the global market for surface mount technology equipment is projected to reach $4.5 billion by 2020, according to a recent report by market analyst Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA).
The global SMT equipment market is driven by the telecommunications, computing and consumer appliances sectors, all of which are prolific users of PCBs. Earlier, components were mounted onto a PCB board using “through-hole technology” either manually or by using automated insertion mount machines. However, the miniaturization trend led to significant board size reductions, making integration of electronic components onto a board a daunting task.
SMT today plays a vital role in the PCB assembling process by enabling mounting of active and passive electronic components directly onto the surface of PCBs. Over the years, SMT equipment has contributed significantly towards simplifying PCB assembly operations, and enabling mass production of electronic devices.
Future growth in the market is forecast to come from emerging opportunities in automotive electronics, medical device electronics, aerospace, defense and military electronics. Adoption of advanced SMT equipment will be driven by the shifting focus of end-use markets from defect detection to defect prevention. The scenario is also creating lucrative opportunities for sophisticated SMT placement and inspection equipment.
Demand for SMT inspection equipment is driven by the need to reduce resource wastages stemming from manufacturing defects, improve manufacturing processes, reduce associated costs, increase yield and enhance margins. Rising demand for light emitting diode (LED) technology is also fuelling demand, driving SMT equipment manufacturers to plan production capacity additions to accommodate the increasing demand from commercial and consumer electronics sectors.
Asia-Pacific is the single largest market worldwide for SMT equipment. The region is forecast to emerge as the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 7.9% over the analysis period, led by robust pace of industrialization and growth in consumer and automotive electronics. SMT placement equipment represents the largest product market supported by the miniaturization trend and the resulting need for higher accuracy in the placement of semiconductor active components such as transistors and diodes, among others. In the SMT inspection systems market, automatic X-ray inspection (AXI) equipment and automatic optical inspection (AOI) equipment are expected to witness strong growth. AXI equipment is expected to benefit from the integration of computer tomography and intuitive programming.