As you know so well, electronics manufacturing contributes powerfully to the U.S. and global economy, but a great deal of work must be done continuously to reinvent and rebuild our industry for the future.
Here in Washington, we are encouraged by new legislation indicating a bipartisan commitment to U.S. manufacturing that is long overdue. See below for more details on this legislation, which would bolster the long-neglected printed circuit board (PCB) sector, and how you can express your support for it.
Policy debates across the globe are heating up as we approach the summer months. Please enjoy this monthly update on the latest government policy developments affecting electronics manufacturing.
Electronics Industry Welcomes Proposal in Congress to Boost U.S. PCB Sector
The electronics manufacturing industry is welcoming a new, bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Congress that would help bring back the U.S. printed circuit board (PCB) sector. The Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards Act of 2022, introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Blake Moore (R-UT), would incentivize purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development (R&D).
Such legislation is long overdue and based on solid research. According to “Leadership Lost,” a recent IPC report, 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%. Only four of the top 20 electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies are based in the United States.
Any loss of access to non-domestic sources of PCBs would be catastrophic. But this legislation begins to remedy this threat.
If you agree that the U.S. PCB sector needs more government policy support, please take a few minutes now to contact your Members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor this bill. It’s quick, easy, and has a real impact.
IPC Plays Key Role in NIST Workshop on Semiconductor Metrology R&D
The U.S. Government is continuing to call on IPC as it plans its research and development (R&D) programs related to semiconductors and the broader electronics manufacturing ecosystem under the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act.
On April 20 and 21, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted the second workshop in a series of virtual events focused on semiconductor metrology research and development (R&D), and IPC and the entire electronics manufacturing industry were well-represented. The plenary speaker at the workshop, Jan Vardaman of TechSearch International, was the co-author of a recent IPC report on advanced packaging, while IPC Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Matt Kelly also assembled and moderated a panel on supply chain areas critical for the future of advanced packaging.
This event was the latest successful example of IPC’s ongoing efforts to educate policymakers about our industry and urge them to take a “silicon-to-systems” approach to successfully meet consumer demands and re-establish the United States as a global leader in electronics manufacturing. Read more in a new IPC blog.
IPC Calls for Robust Support of Advanced Packaging in European Chips Act
Our call for critical support of advanced packaging has also reached policymakers’ ears in Europe.
IPC recently advocated for robust support of advanced packaging in comments submitted to the European Commission on the European Chips Act and how to best implement the strategy. In the comments, IPC reiterated the critical role that advanced packaging plays in chip performance and supply chain resiliency; and that government policy support should extend to both IC substrate fabrication and final package assembly and testing.
IPC continues to advocate for swift adoption and implementation of the legislation as part of a broader strategy to rebuild the European electronics manufacturing ecosystem. Stay tuned for updates in the upcoming months.
Geopolitical Uncertainty Affects Electronics Manufacturers Worldwide
Meanwhile, the state of the global supply chain remains tenuous at best.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a negative supply shock on already strained supply chains. We predict that it will take many months to fully determine the full effect it is having on the electronics industry. IPC’s May Global Sentiment Survey found that nine in 10 electronics manufacturers are currently experiencing rising material costs, while nearly four-fifths are experiencing rising labor costs.
And according to IPC’s May Economic Report, at least two other forces are exerting major pressures on our industry: inflation is pushing costs higher, and China’s strict COVID-19 policy are causing disruptions there. Although downside risks have increased, a recession is still unlikely in the United States this year. However, in Europe, the probability of a recession in major economic markets has increased. Of course, the trajectory of the COVID pandemic also continues to play a major role in the economic health of the global economy.
Be sure to check out the latest economic data in full in IPC’s monthly Economic Outlook Reports, which provide data and trends in U.S. and European economic growth, employment, manufacturer’s sentiment, and end markets for electronics.
IPC’s Environment and Health Advocacy Heats Up
IPC’s Kelly Scanlon has had a busy month spearheading IPC’s EHS advocacy; here’s what’s on that radar this summer.
The European Commission recently opened a public consultation on the general review of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, including evaluation of the criteria and timelines for exemptions. The RoHS Directive, which aims to protect human health and the environment and maximize recovery of certain hazardous substances after their use, is one of the most important policies shaping electronics manufacturing. The deadline for comment is June 2.
Meanwhile, the commission also opened a public consultation on a regulation that would repeal the existing Ecodesign Directive and establish a new framework for setting ecodesign requirements for sustainable products. The proposed regulation notably includes requirements for identifying substances of concern across a product’s life cycle and other information requirements, including a digital product passport. The consultation is open through June 22.
IPC is involved in both consultations, so stay tuned to our Global Advocacy Report and next month’s column in I-Connect007, where we’ll have updates for you.
Here in the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reopened the dockets for the 20 high-priority substances to undergo risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Several of them—flame retardants, phthalates, solvents, and formaldehyde—are relevant to electronics manufacturing.
This decision will allow an additional opportunity for our industry to submit information that would help inform the risk evaluation processes for these chemicals, some of which have relevance to electronics manufacturing processes and products. The dockets are open until June 9. IPC has been very involved in TSCA issues, which you can read more about at ipc.org.
Finally, on April 21, Kelly Scanlon, IPC’s director of EHS policy and research, led a free webinar on how per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in electronics manufacturing and how future regulations of PFAS might affect the industry.
IPC’s environmental and health team will continue to monitor and engage on all these topics. Please reach out to us if you have questions on what your company can do to address any of these policy activities!
Get Involved with IPC Advocacy
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to make your voice heard by policymakers, whether it's concerning U.S. Government support of PCBs or the latest activity by Europe’s chemical regulators.
We always welcome your participation in our efforts to educate and encourage the U.S. government to take a holistic approach to rebuilding its domestic electronics manufacturing ecosystem. If you agree, we need you to visit the IPC Online Advocacy Center and tell your Members of Congress that a robust U.S. electronics industry is in the national interest. As members of the electronics manufacturing industry, your voices hold weight, and they want to hear from you.
Also be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and subscribe to our weekly Global Advocacy Report. The IPC Government Relations (GR) Team is here to help you, so please reach out if we can help advance an issue that you care about.
Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs. Contact him at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.